Why Do I Wait in Line?

Before I had kids, one of my favorite things to do at Christmas time was to go to the New London Mall, that is, when it was a mall, to watch the single night of the year that one could bring their pets to see Santa. If you didn't get the chance to see that, you missed one of the most joyful and funniest things that southeastern CT had to offer. People would bring their pets to sit on Santa's lap to take pictures. The more exotic the animal, the more entertaining. The ones I can remember are iguanas, a pony, St. Bernard, baby chicks. Then, of course, there were dogs, cats, puppies and kittens. The pets that resisted being there were the best. But for whatever reason, probably law suits, that came to an end. A shame because I would love Rachel to be able to see that.

But then I had kids and I have found that to be equally as entertaining. Those that don't take the time to take their kids to see Santa, or begrudgingy do it, are, in my opinion, missing the point.

Why do I wait in long lines to see Santa every year? It's easy. He makes me laugh. And why do I want my kids to believe in Santa Claus? It's easy. He makes me laugh.

So often, it's so easy to get down around the holidays. I find that even though I hate standing in line just like everyone else, waiting patiently for the 1 minute of time with Santa, it always fills me with joy and the waiting that seemed to be a waste of time all goes away and becomes totally worth whatever aggravation it was.

Doesn't the fact that Santa makes you smile make it something worth believing in?

Watch the below video of Mia visiting with Santa. We had travelled to Holyoke Mall in MA during a snow blizzard. The mall was empty due to the snow. There was no line and we hit it just right. We basically just walked up and sat on his lap.

Mia, who was 9 1/2 at the time, was on the cusp of questioning if Santa was real or not. Some kids at school took it upon themselves to tell her that he wasn't real. It was my goal that year to prove them wrong...

After she got off his lap and we walked away, I asked her if she noticed his beard. It was real, indicating that he had to be the real Santa, not one of those "Santa helpers" she heard tale of with fake beards. I told her that due to the road conditions, he must have gotten there by his sleigh which was parked on the roof. The mall was so dead, it was obvious that nobody was on the roads. We walked away and shopped a little bit. When we walked back to the end of the mall that our car was parked at, we peeked in on Santa and there was a different Santa sitting in the chair. A "Santa's helper" with a fake beard. I pointed him out to her and said, the real Santa must have just flew in to see her because now he was gone. We stood and listened for a while and the "Santa's helper" didn't "Ho, ho, ho" or make jokes, or anything. He was kind of boring with the few kids that were in line. With a sparkle in her eyes, she said, "Sha, that HAD to be Santa Claus. Look at his beard! And he must have left on his sleigh! Do you think he came here just to see us?"

"Yes, Mia, I do. That's what I believe."

It gave her belief for one more year. The following year, we went back and sure enough, Santa was there again! This time she asked him if she could tug on his beard. He let her. And again, another year of believing. (We couldn't video it because the mall personnel wouldn't let us. Even Santa was dismayed by that. "It isn't the same anymore," he said with sadness in his voice. Commercialism was taking over and the main point of visiting Santa was to get the picture package for $399.99. Santa was troubled over that and so wasn't I. It's no longer about telling Santa what you want for Christmas; it's no longer about kids visiting with Santa. It's strictly about the photo shoot.

How did this happen?

We went the next year, and to our disappointment, the real Santa wasn't there. It was a Santa's helper. I was greatly saddened by this and wondered if he was sick. I hoped not. I decided to instead believe that he was disgruntled with the new mall policies and boycotted the mall, and hoped that he was at some other mall spreading joy and laughter as he had done for me and my family in years past.

Unfortunately, there came the time that Mia stopped believing. She had lost a tooth and put it under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy. The next morning, she unfolded the dollar bills that the Tooth Fairy had left her and in those bills, there was a Stop and Shop receipt tucked inside. The receipt had the same exact items that were bought at the grocery store when she had went shopping with her mother. When she told me this, she asked me how this could happen. I didn't have an answer. I was dumbfounded at the stupidity.

The difference between Mia's mother and I can be explained in this one very significant moment: Upon hearing this from her daughter, her mother laughed. Upon hearing this from Mia, I cried.

I saw it as the end of her innocence. Oh I know it had to happen sooner or later. I just wanted it to be later.

In this same conversation, she asked me if Santa was real. And to me he is, so I said, "Don't be blowing this Tooth Fairy thing all out of proportion, Mia. Of course Santa is real." But I knew it was over. And the truly sad part was, Mia and her mother moved out before the next holiday would occur, before I could go over the important reasons on why it's important to believe in things that you can't see.

To this day, I can not listen to the Polar Express theme song, "Believe" by Josh Groban without crying. Particularly, the lyrics:

We were dreamers not so long ago
But one by one we all had to grow up
When it seems the magic's slipped away
We find it all again on Christmas day

Believe in what your heart is saying
Hear the melody that's playing
There's no time to waste
There's so much to celebrate
Believe in what you feel inside
And give your dreams the wings to fly
You have everything you need
If you just believe

Tearing up just typing it. (And the bleeding hearts of the world unite.)

My Kaneclusion: The loss of a teenager who is still living may be the hardest thing I have ever had to go through in my life. And every holiday, particularly Christmas, I relive the good times, and hope that someday she understands that I wasn't a liar. I wasn't a fraud. I just wanted her to know how to believe. I wanted her to know how to find joy in the season, even if sometimes, life can get you down. That there are real Santas out there that can lift your spirits and bring joy and laughter if you seek them out.

One of few Christmas wishes I have for this year: That Mia has a wonderful Christmas and gets everything she wishes for. And I hope someday she will somehow believe again. Even if it takes her getting to my age, I hope she believes in the magic of Christmas again in her life and know that she is thought of, more than she knows.

When I get melancholy about the situation, I watch videos like the above. It makes me smile. I hope it made you smile too.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for making me smile...Simply love the person you are...

Mia where ever you are this Christmas season please know you are on my heart and in my prayers...I love you very much and will always be there for you...Love Mrs.B

Mary Ellen said...

I cried too! And know, someday she will believe again!

Dianne said...

Thank goodness for memories to cover the holes. I hope she feels the joy and magic again. More than her believing though, I hope she knows that there are people who will always believe in her.