When we got to the Christmas tree lighting, there was already a long line of people waiting to sit on Santa’s lap. My youngest daughter scanned the line with her eyes and then shook her head vigorously.
“I’m not doing it. I’m too old for Santa. All these kids are really little, Mommy,” she said practically pulling my arm out of my socket.
When did seven become “too old for Santa?” I knew my 10-year-old was done with Santa, but my baby? It just blindsided me. The reality is that she still believes in Santa, just not the mall version of Santa.
I remember when my oldest had the same epiphany. We were riding an escalator in a mall and looking down at the children lining up to see a Santa Claus. He was perched on the edge of a big red velvet chair at the entrance to the food court.
“Mommy, he’s not real,” she said looking up at me wide-eyed.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“His shoes. He’s got on sneakers with fake boots on top,” she said pointing wildly with her other hand.
And she was right. Mall Santa had slip on faux black shiny boots over his sneakers. You could see the sneakers peeking through the sides of the fake boots. I wondered why he didn’t spring for the real deal. But that’s another blog altogether.
“Plus, there’s no way the real Santa would have time to go to every mall before Christmas. That’s why they have to get pretend Santas to do the job,” she said with authority.
Remembering that moment I decided not to make a big deal out of my youngest daughter’s reluctance to sit on Santa’s lap. We watched the tree lighting and enjoyed a few Christmas carols. We were about to make the short walk home when a car led by a police officer with blaring sirens and swirling blue lights pulled up to the curb. Santa Claus jumped out with his sack thrown over his shoulder accompanied by a bevy of elves and Mrs. Claus, of course.
All the children started running to greet him. Suddenly, I felt my daughter’s hand slip away from mine as I watched her join the crowd of kids chasing the magic of Christmas.
Amanda is the mother of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including one on motherhood called "Smotherhood." Find her here on Mondays.