Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Christmas in April

It is mid-April. 

The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, the Easter bunny came and went...

And yet as we walked through a crowded restaurant, surrounded by crackling bacon and light-hearted conversation, my two year-old son greeted each table with panicked eyes and whispered...

"No Santa.  No Santa.  No Santa."

Very creepy.

And I'm sure more than one of those unsuspecting patrons considered calling child services.  I mean, why else would a sweet, little toddler experience Santa paranoia right in the throes of springtime.

I could try to explain it... but who would believe me?

And besides, this is not the first time he has "seen" Santa.

One snowy evening in February my husband carried The Tine across the yard from my in-law's.  As they traversed the dark, eerie terrain the wind picked up, slamming shut the breezeway door behind them...

At which point my son's head whipped around and he cried,

"No Santa!  No Santa!  No Santa!"

By the time they climbed the stairs where I waited with a hot bath for The Tine, his wide, tear-filled eyes and sobbing rants of which I could understand only one word ("Santa") sent my mind into whirlwinds of paranoid mother scenarios.

First off was the serial-killer-dressed-as-Santa-and-lurking-outside-our-house scenario, of course.  But when I noticed my husband's calm expression, and the fact that they, in fact, were alive, my mind took a less dramatic route.

The movie-about-the-serial-killer-dressed-as-Santa-and-lurking-outside-a-house scenario.  Then I recalled my husband's obsessiveness over our son's viewing of television violence (he was outraged that his parents let The Tine watch that superbowl commercial with the football player running down the little, old lady... so horror films would certainly not pass his careful scrutiny).

Okay, maybe just a creepy figurine Santa, then, lingering long after the New Year, lost somewhere in my in-law's cluttered house.

Possible, but in the end, though we racked our brains for viable explanations, the slamming door and snow-covered lawn were the only ones that stood.

Obviously The Tine's irrational fear of Santa stems from somewhere... so here it is...

The First Meeting

Background:  My son's introduction to the concept of Santa Claus consisted of the occasional Christmas book before bed and a movie that quickly earned a place as his favorite, The Polar Express

While my son adores trains and most of this movie does, in fact, take place on a train, a small portion features a large, pale, slightly glowing Tom Hanksish Santa who I, as an adult, even find frightening.

The Tine never relayed this same fear, however, and when we announced Santa's attendance at the play group Christmas party he was elated.

The Meeting:  My son cheerfully eats chicken nuggets and peas (his favorite) while "chatting" with his best friend Emily.

"Santa tumming!... Santa!... Eat peas, Emmy?... Cheers!"  Random, as usual, but excited nonetheless.

Suddenly a "Ho ho ho!" echoes throughout the room as the door flies open, revealing the big man himself.

The Tine is ecstatic.  He jumps in his daddy's arms, hoping for a closer look.

He waves and shouts "Hi Santa!  Hi Santa!"

Santa greets the children like the celebrity he is, shaking hands and patting little heads.

A smile covers my son's face...

Until the moment of contact (or almost contact).

Santa extends his hand to The Tine and the meltdown begins.

He screams.  He cries.  He barrels out of his daddy's arms and claws his way onto my lap, burying his head in my chest and continuing to sob.

He spends the remainder of the evening like so, his little body shaking and repeating over and over again, "All done, Santa.  All done."

He refuses to enter the room where Santa sits, taking pictures and handing out presents, and we certainly do not force the issue.

When Santa leaves he yells, "Bye bye Santa!  All done Santa!"  And continues chanting those words on the ride home, in the tub, until the moment his little eyes close on his pillow.

And now, nearly four months later, this seemingly innocent meeting continues to haunt him. 

It is both disburbing and funny at times.

People keep saying to try again next year... that he will like Santa when he's three.

But as the months tick away and the Christmas countdown begins (this is when Christmas shopping begins, after all), I am beginning to think that a two and a half year-old fraught with Santa paranoia will not become the big guy's number one fan when he turns three.

At this point I don't really care if he likes Santa or not.

If he could just stop relaying his paranoid delusions in the middle of Eat 'n Park... that would be great!


  1. Poor thing! We can totally relate though! Hayden is not a fan of Santa... well - that's not entirely true. He likes him in theory. And he likes that Santa brings him presents; however, Hayden doesn't want to get anywhere near him. As long as the two keep their distance then it's all good. I actually had a post about this... you chould check it out: http://melner.blogspot.com/2009/12/fun-with-santa.html

    - Melissa

  2. The one thing you learn very quickly with young children is that they remember EVERYTHING! So I am wondering did you go to that particular restaurant around Christmas and if so was there a Santa there or a Christmas scene or something he is remembering? Same with your in-laws place or other places where this "no Santa' has happened? It's very common for toddlers to be afraid of Santa and not want to get too close or have their picture taken etc - my daughter still last Christmas just wanted to look from afar, so don't worry, he will grow out of it!

    They say a good imagination is a sign of great intelligence!

  3. Hi there - I have an award for you over at my blog.


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