Monday, December 03, 2007

Winter Dreams

In imagination, she is brave and strong. “I’m going to hug Santa,” she promised on the way to the annual children’s Christmas party. Put on by the smallest affiliate college of the university where I teach, this event is exactly the kind of holiday tradition I used to envy in other, more fortunate children: there are crafts and cookies, a few half-hearted Christmas carols, and then at four o’clock Santa himself arrives with carefully selected gifts for each child. These are no token bits of plastic: they are real, battery-operated toys. Last year we got the Leap Pad Fridge Farm; this year it was a light-up game of Whack-a-Mole, complete with four mallets.

Pie was excited. She understands about Santa this year, and her excitement about presents is no longer confined to simply the wrapping paper and boxes – alongside the light of Christmas magic there is a distinct gleam of avarice in her eyes. She envisioned herself striding up to Santa, snuggling in his lap, conversing readily and audibly about what she wanted for Christmas. In her gleeful anticipation I caught a glimpse of my own winter dreams of gliding smoothly and effortlessly across the ice, unbothered by loose laces or cold toes, certainly not huddling miserably by the side of the arena, begging my dad for fifty cents with which to buy a styrofoam cup of scalding hot water flavoured with a thin bit of chocolate syrup.

In the end she was braver and stronger than I, or even she, expected. She ventured across the stage unaccompanied, all the way up to the cozy armchair where Santa sat chortling. There she paused, stricken all at once by the impracticability of her plans, the sheer impossibility of climbing into this big red man’s lap. Her eyes were round and terrified but she did not bolt: she accepted her gift gravely and then tiptoed across to the other side of the stage, where I stood waiting.

45 comments:

the dragonfly said...

Aww! That picture is precious.

Brave little girl!

Janet said...

Perfect picture! I love her body language in it.

Both of my older kids were terrified of Santa for years. This is the first year that Hailey has willingly sat in his big, red lap. She is six. But Elyse refused to go near him so I look forward to a few more years of pictures like yours.

Jess said...

She's so sweet! And brave for continuing even in her nervousness.

flutter said...

she is so teensy. Man what a doll!

slouching mom said...

She looks solemn, and terrified, and resolved, all at once.

And those curls...

Maddy said...

Good for her. Getting up on a stage is daunting enough let alone dealing with the Santa stuff.
Best wishes
Something peculiar has happened to blogger comments so just for now, this is my calling card "Whittereronautism"so we can find each other.

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Amy said...

Oh, so cute!

Aliki2006 said...

She IS brave--I always think the prospect of this Santa's helper in the big red clothes, in flesh and blood, must be terrifying to children

Magpie said...

Oh, what a dear picture.

bren j. said...

Wow. My uncle played Santa at our big family gatherings for years and even knowing who it WAS I was still afraid!

alejna said...

That is a wonderful photo. I love the wide-eyed expression on her face, and that wary posture. Meanwhile, the Santa looks so relaxed. You say he chortled?

Kathryn said...

Oh how tiny she looks standing on stage by herself. What a brave girl!

Luisa Perkins said...

Brave Pie!

Santa visited our church supper last Saturday, and I witnessed one dad trying to force his two-year-old daughter onto Santa's lap. She was screaming and struggling; busybody that I am, I had a hard time biting my tongue and not yelling, "Leave her alone! Can't you see she's terrified?" It was like something out of David Sedaris.

Cyndi said...

Oh how sweet is she! So big and brave.

Jennifer said...

Precious childhood moment... beautifully captured.

Suz said...

Look at her! So adorable and with such a determined stance.

Sergeant "P" said...

Sweet little Pie.

So resolved to "see Santa." It says something of your parenting that she worked out her fear and did it all on her own terms. I love it.

Way to go, Mom.

Mama Drama Jenny said...

There's something more evocative about this photo than the usual sitting on the lap picture anyway.

Honest and sweet.

And who wouldn't be a bit afraid. Hell, I'm scared and I'm not even in the same continent...er...country as that Santa.

Julie Pippert said...

This is so sweet...exactly how it is, I think. At least for us.

Julie
Using My Words

Niksmom said...

What an exquisite picture; it captures exactly what you described. What a brave, determined young lady!

Kyla said...

Good for her!

Beck said...

My oldest daughter has passed through her entire life so far without ever getting closer than a meter from Santa or his dopplegangers. Despite her polite distance, she's had quite a cheerful childhood so far.
And that Pie. How cute is she?

Anonymous said...

Enlightened Santas invite the boys and girls to stand next to him if they prefer. Could that be proposed to "your" Santa for next year?

Teah said...

What a brave little sweetie. I give her A for effort!

Mad Hatter said...

Dear sweet Pie. So brave. That picture is a keep forever one.

That level of bravery is seldom seen in these parts where Miss M was heard at the Santa Claus parade shouting, "I'm not going to say 'hi' to Santa. He's not my friend."

Jenifer said...

Way to go Pie! What a brave girl and oh so cute too.

bubandpie said...

Anonymous - Santa was very nice about it. He paused only long enough to be sure she wasn't going to change her mind, and then handed her the gift. I knew there was no way she was going to sit on his lap - what got to me was the fact that she didn't know it - didn't find out until the last minute.

andi said...

What a classic picture! My girl keeps telling me she's going to sit on Santa's lap, but I will be lucky if she gets as close as Pie did.

andi from Poot and Cubby

Lawyer Mama said...

That picture is so sweet! Santa is intimidating. He's like a rock star for toddlers.

Crystal said...

Oh that pout is priceless. I love it. She earned that Whack a Mole fair and square.

MamaDrama said...

I am much braver in my imagination too..
I'm always a little conflicted about the "here, go sit in a sweaty, strange man's lap" business with Santa. I can't stand to watch people forcing their screaming children to do it for a photo. But I love reading about Brave Pie who was SO SET ON IT. Up close, the beard and red suit is a little intimidating... not to mention the stage fright.

nomotherearth said...

How adorable is she?? The Boy would only stand near Santa too.

Marie said...

Oh...you so perfectly described the way I think so many of us feel facing new situations! We imagine ourselves entering with confidence and smoothly gliding through, but reality is usually much different. That story coupled with the picture is priceless.

Patois said...

Hooray for Pie! I sometimes wonder why we feel it necessary to have the kids sit on Santa's lap. Clearly, we've forgotten our own terror at the thought.

Omaha Mama said...

That is one authentic looking Santa! I must say, the fact that she did not burst into tears makes this a huge victory. What a brave girl!!!

-The Shiny Happy Mama- said...

She's an adorably brave little trooper and her dress is so pretty!!

winslow1204 said...

I love your picture of you and your baby!!

Julie said...

Jeez, they make the kids walk across a stage to see Santa??? I'm a little bit scared just thinking of it and I'm a grownup who teaches in front of scads of undergrads each day.

I'd do it for Whack-a-Mole, though. I really would.

Julie
http://letter9.wordpress.com

andrea from the fishbowl said...

Brave girl!
I think we often forget how scary it is to meet The Big Guy himself.

Swistle said...

Oh, MAN, that picture is 2,000 words AT LEAST.

Sue said...

Awwwwww....

Emily said...

I have been thinking about this post since I read it. If we were Christian, I suspect Santa would scare the dickens out of Zachary.

Sheila Ann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sheila Ann said...

This is so sweet. I posted it today to Beauty...on the weblog!

Christina said...

So cute. Cordy finally understands Santa this year, and has asked to go see him. We're going to try it, I think. We'll just go to the mall on a weekday afternoon when it isn't busy so she can have the chance to warm up to him. I hope she'll have the same courage!