Here we are hauties- December! Can you believe it? D-E-C-E-M-B-E-R. Personally, it’s boggled my mind like a gigantic JENGA puzzle that just crumbled after a colossal stack. But, I guess there isn’t any point in gawking at the calendar. It’s here; the start to the holiday season, which will eventually culminate with the traditional rendition of Auld Lang Syne and then the start of a new year.
Hopefully, you all had a great kick-off to the festivities. Turkey, laughter, perhaps a cheek-warming quantity of wine, and all of the traditions that ease the pain of watching another year pass by us without any regard.
But, as we engage in these traditions, there’s also the opportunity for the hustle and bustle to creep under our collars and sully what is one of the most beautiful times of the year.
For the past six years, my family has visited Santa during his stay at the Natick Mall. It’s a fairly new tradition in my life, and one I will be sad to see end in a few years. Regardless of how precious it is, it can also be a challenge. This year, I would quantify it as a gargantuan challenge.
This past Thanksgiving weekend, I discovered the tightest velvet rope in New England. And no, it isn’t at Yvonne’s on a Thursday night. Santa at the Natick Mall has tighter access than the Sound Factory in 1999. Because this year, the North Pole decided to implement reservations to see the big guy.
I did know about the reservations, and through a slight miss-communication, I thought we were good. So, when greeted by the IPad-holding gatekeeper, he informed me reservations should check in at the left. So, my two little “angels” and I headed to the line and waited for about 20 minutes. During which time, along with their awaiting contemporaries, they crawled and rolled around on the floor and almost took down the mock streetlights an average of about once every 190 seconds. When we finally reached the head of the line, I realized the mix-up and Santa’s Helper sent me to the “walk-in” line, where we waited for another 10 minutes.
Now, before we arrived at the mall, there was about an hour of sweat-inducing wardrobe negotiations. “Handsome clothes”, as they’ve come to be known, are seriously frowned upon in our home and usually require some sort of physical restraint, and in this case, the promise of Minecraft and cake. So, my blood pressure was still palpable in my neck by the time the “door guy” talked to me. At this point, I figured my only option was to try and grease the guy. As I reached into my wallet, he looked at me and we had a conversation that went like this:
Santa’s Helper: “So, right now, we’re running about two hours for walk-ins.”
Santa’s Helper: “We’re pretty booked today and I want to be sure you’re prepared for that long of a wait.”
Me: “Well, considering I just spent an hour sitting on my child to get a sweater over his head, I don’t think I have another option.”
Two hours?! My heart started to race, as I used my legs and arms to corral the boys while simultaneously trying to negotiate with the Elf. I handed Rhett the IPAD to at least occupy one of the two sweater-wearing maniacs. Rhett quickly and horrifically discovered mommy forgot to charge the IPad, and the promised Minecraft was actually an unreachable carrot. As we all started to degrade, the politeness drained from my brain.
Me: “You know what? Yes. We can wait. But, the question is, Are you prepared for my children to wait that long?”
Santa’s Helper: “Sure. We’re used to the kids.” (Said with a nervous laugh and smile as the boys volume started to increase.)
Two Hours?! Once again, the row of faux street lights trembled as Vincent tried to hurdle the fake hedge. There had to be another option.
Me: “I have an idea. How about if we go to lunch and we’ll come back during your next reservation?”
Santa’s Helper: “I really don’t know how to make a reservation.”
Me: “You are holding the IPad that contains everyone’s reservations and you can’t make one?! Are you kidding me?”
And there it was. I was becoming incredibly rude during the time of the year when the Golden Rule matters the most. I hated the tone in my voice, and then I looked at this poor kid’s face. He was just some boy working at the mall during the holiday season, and forming behind me was a group of unruly “walk-ins” who had their sights set on this helpless helper. Did I really want to be that mom? Somehow I pulled myself out of the spiraling drain of aggravation. There’s enough drama in life, I don’t need to make it any worse. Above all, with something as trivial as Santa reservations.
Me: “I’m sorry. I just can’t imagine these two are going to make it through two hours and I don’t know when we’ll have a chance to get back here.”
Santa’s Helper: “I completely understand. I think I can figure out how to get you on the schedule. Can you come back at 3:20?”
Me: “Yes! Thank you so much. Really. Thank you.”
Santa’s Helper: “No problem.”
About two hours later we were back at the Santa station, ready to give him our list. Now, it could have been the glass of Chardonnay at lunch, but, my guess is lunching with my friend and her children and watching and laughing as our little ones’ rambunctious behavior jelled and became one mass of squirming and giggling antics, I became reacquainted with the importance of a sense of humor and perspective. Especially, this time of year.
We had several great photos from which to choose, but this one seemed the most appropriate. 🙂
And, it seems the silly Santa photo will be a new tradition, because this is last year’s picture.
The holidays are so wonderful. But, they are also a very hard time of year for so many of us. So, why let the small things get us so worked up? I know I will have moments of sadness, as I miss Garry’s participation in our family traditions. I already have. I’ll be damned if the mall Santa is the thing that brings me down. In fact, nothing besides my heartache will bring me down, and even then I will fight it.
This holiday season I pledge to keep problems in perspective and be grateful for all I have and for all of the people in my life, for the traditions of the past, for the ones in which I will partake this year, and for new traditions I have yet to experience.
No matter your faith, I hope you’ll join us in this pledge to embody the holiday season and spread a little love and happiness. Because for those of us who experience sadness with the holiday joy, receiving and giving love is what will get us through to that chorus of Auld Lang Syne.
Thanks for reading my long-winded story. Happy Holidays!
PS- I hope we can all experience the holidays and life like these two crazy little maniacs. 🙂 They inspire me all year long to be the best person I can be.