Scared of Santa
December 18, 2004 10:50 AM   Subscribe

Ho Ho Waaaahhhh!! A lot of kids don't like standing in long lines. A lot of kids don't like strangers (especially ones with big fake beards who are laughing dementedly). A lot of kids don't like having their pictures taken. Put them all together, and you've got the nightmare of the Kid's Photo With Santa, some unfortunate results of which are immortalized in the Scared Of Santa Photo Gallery. (Link is to #2, which is my favorite.)
posted by Kat Allison (56 comments total)
The santa in picture #5 would make me scared too! What the shit is that?
posted by jeffmik at 10:57 AM on December 18, 2004

I like #23, but it mostly has to do with the superfunhappy picture border that goes with it and the baby in Santa's other arm that is giving the crying kid a 'what the hell is wrong with you look'.
posted by Arch Stanton at 10:59 AM on December 18, 2004

This santa scares the shit out of me. He looks like a mafia informer in disguise
posted by dodgygeezer at 11:00 AM on December 18, 2004

Yeah, some of those Santas make me want to cry, too.
posted by Ruki at 11:07 AM on December 18, 2004

I like how in #11 it looks like Santa's bawling too. And #15 looks like some evil wizard from a bad seventies fantasy flick. Oh, and #17 is skeeeeevy.
posted by Kattullus at 11:16 AM on December 18, 2004

Right after high school I got recruited by a friend to take Santa photos at a nearby mall. The Santa was a pervert, the elf was cute except for the house arrest anklet she wore and I’d never heard so much screaming in my life. This brings back so many bad memories.

I think 12 is my favorite.
posted by Tenuki at 11:19 AM on December 18, 2004

I once had the pleasure of being the Easter Bunny at the Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana, IL. In addition to the hilarity of kids being afraid of the giant bunny suit, I also enjoyed when break time would roll around and I could pop off the head and reveal my blue mohawk. The parents' expression of "I just let my child sit on your lap!?!" was priceless.
posted by ba at 11:20 AM on December 18, 2004

Isn’t removing part of the costume in public a big no-no for mall mascots? I thought you weren’t supposed to break the illusion.
posted by Tenuki at 11:26 AM on December 18, 2004

I didnt think the number 7 santa could be beat... then i got to number 9.
posted by Recockulous at 11:44 AM on December 18, 2004

number 9 is giving me the creeps big time !

i was never afraid of the eaton's santa, whose lap i sat on every xmas season, 'cause he was dating my aunty marge and was a very nice gentleman who worked as a firefighter normally. i have to find one of my santa photos to scan, so i can join The Secret Life of Gravy in showing off goofy childhood moments, heh.
posted by t r a c y at 11:45 AM on December 18, 2004

... And I could definitely buy into a healthy fear of Santa. I mean, this pervert makes you sit on his lap, he breaks into your house, he gets really hung up on how naughty people are being and he uses midgets as slave labor. Dude's an episode of Law & Order waiting to happen.

If you need further justification of my fear, just twist up the scenario a bit. Suppose I came to your house on July 25th and told you I was going to take your kid to the mall to sit on the lap of an elderly obese man and have your child tell him, in graphic detail, what he wants the man to bring him in the middle of the night. How would that be?

That's what I thought.

Fear of God, indeed.
--from Witt and Wisdom
posted by amberglow at 11:50 AM on December 18, 2004

I remember when I was a little tyke and my mom and dad took me to the mall to see Santa. I was never scared of Santa, no matter how he looked. I always figured, "Hey! It's Santa! How bad can he be?"

Anyway I waited my turn, hopped up in his lap, and as I started to tell him what I wanted for X-mas- he exhaled. I was on the business end of bad alcohol breath.

I stopped in midsentence and yelled at the top of my lungs "Santa's Drunk!" At which point I jumped off the poor guy's lap and left, no picture or anything.

Looking back, and given what my parents tell me, he wasn't actually drunk. There was a pub in the mall which served a good dinner and he probably went there for break and had a beer to go with it. Keep in mind this is early 1980s, so having a beer with dinner and then going back to work wasn't seen as some big sin. And hell, given what some of these poor Santa Schmucks have to deal with, I'd drink too.

This is my little one's first X-mas and he treated Santa with almost complete indifference. It was kinda cute in a way.
posted by GreatWesternDragon at 12:04 PM on December 18, 2004

Best movie treatment of kids waiting in line for a fur-trimmed booze-scented lap-sit: Bad Santa
posted by telstar at 12:10 PM on December 18, 2004

"Number 9... Number 9... Number 9... "
Oh, lordy. Looks like something from 6 Feet Under, CSI, or this guy.
Definite nightmare fuel.
posted by numlok at 12:13 PM on December 18, 2004

I love number 24. The Santa looks like he would like to do a runner too.
posted by ginz at 12:14 PM on December 18, 2004

Nice, The Secret Life of Gravy!

Here's my old Santaman.
posted by rushmc at 12:17 PM on December 18, 2004

Tenuki, you are correct. I was in college and pushing limits, without regard for how it might affect the children. At the time I felt I was somehow punishing the parents for forcing their terrified kids to pose for a photo with a frightening behemoth. Now I realize I was hurting everyone.

...except me. I had a good laugh over the whole thing.
posted by ba at 12:27 PM on December 18, 2004

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned number 20 yet.
posted by neckro23 at 12:27 PM on December 18, 2004

I remember seeing a drunk Santa in one of the malls. It was nearly ten years ago, and the guy was trying to pick a fight with a shopper who wasn't interested in singing an off-key rendition of Jingle Bells. The "helper elf" looked like she wanted to die.

Seeing folks who need "encouagement" to spend time with kids is disheartening enough. Watching parents foist their young'uns (who may still be in their shy, timid phase) in the lap of a larger-than-life costumed figure is equally depressing. Knowing many of today's "assistants" are hucksters concerned with selling photo packages is (almost) enough to make me hate humanity.
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:32 PM on December 18, 2004

that's one 'a'. thanks.

Someone tell O'Reilly and the rest of the nutjob right, "Santa is killing Christmas."
posted by wah at 12:35 PM on December 18, 2004

If anyone is interested in a great rendering of the "mall santa" tale from the other side of the lap (specifically as one of Mall Santa's "helper elves"), I'd like to suggest David Sedaris' "Holdays on Ice".
There's a RealAudio exerpt from the book found in this NPR broadcast, and for those that don't mind .ram, here's a direct link to that file.
The book is inexpensive, a quick and hilarious read, and should put you in the "right" holiday mood.
/Pepsi Blue
posted by numlok at 12:48 PM on December 18, 2004

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned number 20 yet.

that's because the kid is scarier than the santa, hee!
posted by t r a c y at 12:58 PM on December 18, 2004

What a fantastic post, thank you.
posted by Nelson at 1:01 PM on December 18, 2004

My childhood fear of the department store Santa was unquestionably put into perspective the year my father's best friend dressed up as the New Year's baby. Oh, the things you can never un-see...
posted by Sangre Azul at 1:05 PM on December 18, 2004

A timeless photo from LIFE Magazine. This is clearly not a new phenomenon. See also.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:15 PM on December 18, 2004

In the university research institute I worked in ten years ago someone was volunteered every year to be Santa at the Christmas party. I was the new guy so I got picked. This place, being full of Aussies and Canadians, was known for wild parties and extreme behaviour, so I decided I'd be the Grinch. Covered myself in green makeup and made a Santa-suit-cut-out-of-a-red -curtain authentic Grinch costume. I even enlisted a grad student to play my dog Max.

Since the Christmas party involved people's kids sitting on my lap I was a little worried that I'd scare them, but as it happened all the kids loved me. Too much, I think: a year later one of my co-workers came up to me and said her little girl had cried when she took her to see Santa. When asked what the problem was she said "he doesn't look like the *real* Santa!" Who in her mind, it turned out, had green skin and a bad-fitting coat. I guess she had imprinted on me.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:20 PM on December 18, 2004

The caption on No. 13 offers a bit of a puzzle.
posted by muelos at 1:24 PM on December 18, 2004

I have never understood this. Can't you take pictures of your kids screaming at home for free???
posted by bas67 at 1:34 PM on December 18, 2004

"This is clearly not a new phenomenon."
For sure, and given the age of many of the photos on the site, I don't think it is intended to read that way.
I suspect there is something deep-seeded at work in this collective childhood love/hate relationship with both Santa and clowns (both of which I actually still feel very uncomfortable around).
Call in the shrinks!
posted by numlok at 1:38 PM on December 18, 2004

I fondly remember a cheap fair visiting town during the month of December. Aside from the travelling freak show (with the three-legged dog, of course) there was a photo opportunity with a particularly skinny Santa Claus, sitting on a stool, in front of a parking meter.
posted by icontemplate at 1:57 PM on December 18, 2004

The caption on No. 13 offers a bit of a puzzle.

Jacob is in the box??
posted by Hlewagast at 2:28 PM on December 18, 2004

numlok: Funny link! It rates at least a four on the "WTF Scale".

First: Oh yeah, that doesn't look fake.

B: Isn't that girl a little old to be sitting on Santa? Or at least a little old to not be able to do so without lapsing into a screechfest?

3: "Using our purpose built digital photographic system..." What is that, like a digital camera and a copy of Photoshop?

And finally: How charming - fake memories!
posted by darkstar at 2:30 PM on December 18, 2004

Now this, this, is truly the best of the Web.

Also, how many of those Santas looked really, really drunk to y'all?
posted by stet at 2:33 PM on December 18, 2004

He He thanks for that fab link. I needed a laugh as just had a very bad commute home from work (bunch of kids hurling racial slurs at everyone and then having a seat thrown at me for no reason!)

No. 2 is my fave but then No. 4 has excellent potential for a crimbo card for my brothers who as twins, looked scarily like the pair in the pic at that age.
posted by floanna at 3:03 PM on December 18, 2004

I love this, especially as I just completed this trip myself today. Picture two was my favorite too. Laughed myself silly. I can't recall ever being afraid of Santa, but my son was having Santa issues last month. He'd see a picture and go hide. But we bought a Christmas DVD put out by The Wiggles, and after he watched it a couple times, Santa didn't bother him.

I think pictures like this are the parents' fault though. Some of the kids this year were cranky in line waaaay before they met up with Santa. Worked up as they were, seeing a big, bearded man in red is much like waving the flag in front of the bull.

Pick your Santa carefully. If the guy looks scary, your child will be scared. Some are better than others. Ask your friends where they're going this year.

Don't over dress your kid, especially in a hot mall. There was one woman in line with her kid in a fancy knit hat and sweater, and the poor thing was sweating. It's a child, not a brisket. If you must get a Santa picture with your child bundled for the north pole, have him wait in a t-shirt and then throw on the sweater when he's the next in line for Santa.

Bring a snack. Nothing makes those in line with you hate you more, than listening to your child whine for food while you ignore him. Cheerios fit in your coat pocket.

A small, noiseless toy to play with while in line works magic.

If your child needs to go to the bathroom? Take them. Yeah, you wasted a bit of time standing there, but you can try again later or even next year. If you make your child piss their pants so you don't have to leave line, everyone including your child will hate you. If you put your piss soaked child on Santa, you will go to hell, no take backs.

Above all else, don't scream and yell at your child in line. They're being kids. You're being an asshole.
posted by FunkyHelix at 3:41 PM on December 18, 2004

Awesome post FunkyHelix. Thanks!
Definite Ctrl+P material.
posted by numlok at 3:52 PM on December 18, 2004

It's a child, not a brisket.

I think this is the best parenting advice I shall ever hope to receive.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:11 PM on December 18, 2004

Anyone besides me wonder why this is "" and all of the towns mentioned are suburbs of Chicago?
Just a thought.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 4:18 PM on December 18, 2004

My parents never let me sit on Santa's lap as a kid. I wonder if it's too late now? :-)

This is an awesome post. Made my day.
posted by carabiner at 5:04 PM on December 18, 2004

If these were on Ofoto, I would buy them all, frame them and put them on my mantle. HILARIOUS.
posted by sdrawkcab at 6:00 PM on December 18, 2004

These made me think of the Santa scene in A Christmas Story, when all the kids ended up crying. Now that was a scary Santa!
posted by SisterHavana at 7:17 PM on December 18, 2004

This is great. Thanks, Kat.
posted by interrobang at 7:33 PM on December 18, 2004

In overall composition, 12 is the best. The girl looks like Chucky from the Child's Play movies.
posted by painquale at 10:01 PM on December 18, 2004

Yep, I'm likin' this link, too.

I have yet to let my kids sit on Santa's lap. Their four and two, and unless they really, really want to, it's not gonna happen. AFAIAC, all Santa's are potential NAMBLA members. My kids don't need to sit on any old mans lap.
posted by codeofconduct at 10:03 PM on December 18, 2004

Number 9, all the way. But I love 18, too, because the little girl is trying her darndest to be a good girl and repress her urge to freak out and flee. Keep it up, dearie--just 80 more years to go!
posted by squirrel at 10:06 PM on December 18, 2004

Oh rush, you were so ky00t!

Personally I never stood in the line to sit on santa's lap. He got a letter from me every year, so he already knew. Plus I hate having my picture taken.
posted by kamylyon at 3:08 AM on December 19, 2004

i work with someone who insisted on having her two yorkshire terriers sit on a mall santa's lap ... they're cute dogs and i guess they're fairly well behaved but i thought it was weird ... their names are hershey and cocoa

god knows what the mall santa thought
posted by pyramid termite at 3:08 AM on December 19, 2004

I wonder how long before the politically correct brigade cite these photos as evidence that it is no longer appropriate for children to sit on strange men's knees. or maybe i'm just hungover.
posted by gt16 at 3:24 AM on December 19, 2004

i think all told i like the older pictures (1970 and earlier) the best. something about the film quality i think; maybe because they remind me of old pictures of my family. nothing quite as fun as sitting down with the relatives and watching slides so old that even grandpa is saying "oh my gosh, is that so-and-so? well, i'll be damned..."

#2 is definitely a winner, not sure why it wasn't number 1.

and unrepentanthippie, the photos are from the chicago tribune. south florida just seems to be mirroring them for some reason.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:23 AM on December 19, 2004

We had a Santa yesterday at the homeless shelter where I volunteer. It was another (female) volunteer, who did her utmost to lower her voice several octaves. Most of the really little kids cried and screamed while their mothers forced them onto Santa's lap - what sick pleasure do parents get out of this, anyway?

The older kids sat with obvious trepidation, and then whispered to me as they left "SantaLand," "Is that Renee?" Poor, jaded things.

I considered it a relative success because no one actually wet their pants.
posted by Uccellina at 9:54 AM on December 19, 2004

I'm with you, Uccellina. I think parents perpetuate the Santa myth because it helps them re-experience and thus somewhat work out their own adult disillusionment. Santa, the Easter bunny, religion, mother's eternal protection... poof!
posted by squirrel at 5:39 PM on December 19, 2004

and unrepentanthippie, the photos are from the chicago tribune. south florida just seems to be mirroring them for some reason.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel (and is a sister paper to the Chicago Tribune. Now you know. : )
posted by SisterHavana at 6:45 AM on December 20, 2004

The caption on No. 13 offers a bit of a puzzle.

Maybe that's mom dressed as santa, with Jacob riding along in the bowl full of jelly?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:01 AM on December 20, 2004

i work with someone who insisted on having her two yorkshire terriers sit on a mall santa's lap ...

Apparently the Petsmart near us had a Santa specifically for pet photos. So not totally uncommon. The cats would probably kill us if we tried to bring them in for a photo, tho'.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:05 AM on December 20, 2004

what sick pleasure do parents get out of this, anyway?

Wow. I doubt there are many parents out there getting thrills from watching their kids cry.

Speaking as a parent I can only say you involve your children in many activities that become overwhelming: amusement parks, movies, play groups, that end in tears. Santa is like that too. You get them all excited about a visit to Santa, and most often it goes well; it is a delight and a joy for parent and child.

It can go very wrong and a good parent won't insist on a picture. But sometimes there is a great deal of time and effort invested-- the clothes, the grooming, the car trip, the standing in line-- so unfortunately too many parents insist on a pay off.

I was lucky. My daughter had a great experience every year except around 4, I believe. As soon as I saw how upset she was, I picked her up and we skipped the picture that year. The next year, she was fine. I cherish her Santa pictures, just as my mother cherishes my Santa pictures.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:21 AM on December 20, 2004

« Older IEDs vs. Wookiees   |   Rub Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments