Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Traditions: Santa Edition


The older I get the more I recognize the traditions and practices that distinguish my family from the next one. When I was a child, I assumed that everyone went about life the way we did. Every child cleaned his or her room on Tuesdays and Fridays. Everyone spent time in the summers completing book reports. Everyone drank prune juice with breakfast.

One by one I discovered that every child did not, in fact, live life the way I did. Recognizing, for once and always, that my parents did some things different than everyone else. One tradition that lives on, even after moving out and getting married and making decisions about prune juice and room cleaning for myself, is the annual Santa photograph.

My mom started taking pictures of my sisters and me propped up on Santa’s lap as soon as we were old enough to cry for being handed to a stranger. Not quite thirty years later, the tradition lives on. We don sweaters and venture downtown, forcing either my brother (the youngest) or my sister (the shortest) to sit on the frail man’s lap while we all laugh and smile for the camera.

Since we’ve gotten older, getting downtown to get a photo snapped has required more and more coordination to find a gap in our schedules. Between seasonal jobs, visiting schedules, and Christmas parties thrown by friends together or separately, our age has made it more challenging—and not just because of glares we receive while waiting in line without a child under the age of ten.

The children in tafeta dresses and bow ties often look on our tradition with confused expressions, unsure of the adults assaulting Santa while they wait for their turn. The mothers, and occasional father, look on with mixtures of what I have always perceived as confusion and jealousy, wondering if by continuing the annual photo tradition their children will remain—ever—theirs.

Tomorrow is the day we continue our annual practice. We have set the date and made our arrangements. My mom will purchase one more holiday frame to decorate the mantle, and next year as we decorate the house we will remember whatever event inevitably accompanied the outing. Each photo becomes a story.

And that is why--even in our twenties--we still support the annual tradition. These photos record our constantly evolving existence as a family: whether or not everyone lives in town, whether or not everyone is busy, and whether or not they include Santa.

(Though he is a jolly ol' prop.)

1 comment:

  1. Oh I am so going to need photographic evidence of this! Gotta love adult santa photos!!