When Reservoir Mum suggested we get a Santa photo with the kids this morning I pointed at her with my eyebrows raised and a smile on my face and said, ‘Yes!’ while I was screaming-crazy inside my brain-case with the anticipation of shopping centre fatigue.
I was thinking Myers, Northland, High Point, car parking fights, packed outlets, and the line to Santa like a conveyer belt to insanity – you put your mildly behaved kids at one end and they come out the other end demon-toothed psycho-maniacs just as you’re ready to place them on Santa’s lap.
Thankfully, RM had checked the local papers earlier in the week and noted that there would be a Santa at the less populated Uni Hill Factory Outlets in Bundoora. We were well prepared and made sure we had a bit of cash on us, expecting to spend probably $60 plus (which we somehow justified as being worth it, despite the fact that I had a mobile phone that took pretty good pics and $10 Santa Suit at home in the cupboard.)
So we dressed the kids, packed them into the car, headed over to UHFO, parked with ease in the underground parking lot, ran into Uncle Dave and cousins Carla and Dylan and then marched up the escalator – three parents and six kids – to take our place in the Santa’s queue.
After wandering around a bit and not finding a Santa anywhere we went to one of the Café’s and asked them to point us in the direction of the Santa photos. ‘We don’t do Santa photos here,’ a kind gentleman said. ‘We just have a walking Santa.’
‘When I said, What the fuck is a walking Santa? the kind gentleman laughed and shrugged, probably used to the Bogan types from Reservoir.
After a few more circuits of the shopping center we found the walking Santa. He looked kind of like the photo Santas we’d been to in the past, maybe a little shabbier, and with a tinge of the homeless man as he meandered around with a bag over his shoulder.
Well, surprisingly, he turned around and saw us all standing there and his eyes lit up and he Ho Ho Ho-ed the crap out of us and the kids jumped with glee and I had to swallow back a little happy-sad ball of emotion that was threatening to burst from my solar-plexus like a pigeon from a cage at a moving wedding.
He was simply awesome. He spent a good amount of time with each of the kids, asked them questions, guessed their grade at school and gave them lots of hugs and when RM asked if we could get a photo with him he gathered them onto one of the ‘man-benches’ and sat their patiently as we snapped away with our mobile phones.
Afterwards he hugged each of the kids again, gave them a candy cane, and wished them all a Merry Christmas. On his way past he told me, ‘Have a great Christmas. Enjoy your family.’
He was wonderful. The kids absolutely loved it. There was no queue, no cash handed over, no assistant rushing you on to a lap and then rushing you off again.
So here’s RD’s Christmas Saving Tip for 2012. (Savings in this context means money, time and stress) –
Right now there are hundreds of walking Santa’s working around