Childhood is weird

I’ve been thinking a lot about the things we do to kids lately. Like Santa. I almost didn’t do Santa (for reasons I have discussed before), but I’m glad I changed my mind. Santa is a lot of fun. For me, anyway. Well, the Christmas morning part. The rest…hm.

We took the kids to see Santa (aka HoHo) at the mall this past weekend. Didn’t get pics taken, because I want the kids in their Christmas outfits for that. But Anya wanted to say hi. They’re friends, you see.

Anya walked right up, sat on his lap, and they had a little chat. HoHo was in a walking cast, so of course she had to check on him.

Kai has watched all of this from the safety of my arms. At one point, HoHo looked up at him, and Kai reached for him. So I placed Kai on HoHo’s knee.

Kai reached up and gently brushed HoHo’s beard. HoHo looked down at him and smiled.

“Well, hello there,” HoHo said.

Kai’s face crumpled, and he began to cry. I immediately rescued him. Too soon. I figured as much. I didn’t take Anya to see HoHo until she was 2, and even then she cried the whole time.

Then HoHo asked Anya what she would like for Christmas. She shrugged.

“A loaf of bread?”

 She nodded, a small, unsure smile on her face.

“No,” HoHo said. “You don’t want bread! You want a toy, right? Maybe a doll?”

A more enthusiastic smile this time, and vigorous nodding. But no elaboration — which is unusual for my gregarious girl. She was starstruck.

They chatted for a few more minutes, then he gave her a candy cane and they said goodbye.

All the while, I pondered how odd the whole scenario is. Each year, we take our kids to stand in line so they can, for a few brief moments, sit on the lap of a costumed stranger and tell him what goodies they would like to receive. The kids are supposed to be totally cool with this, even though in any other context the costumed stranger would be accused of pedophilia. We then have the opportunity to pay a ridiculous (really, it’s highway robbery) sum of money for a photograph of the occasion. How does this make sense again?

Life is weird, I guess. At least HoHo is good weird.

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