I hate the freaking mall. It is the last place I want to go when I need to do holiday shopping. The crowds, the nasty fast food smell, the stores that sell unoriginal Chinese-made crap-- it is all just too much for this mama to bear. And yet, out of necessity, I found myself there last week trying to find some plain old long sleeved white onesies for the Turtles' thrift store Christmas dresses.
It seemed like it would be a quick trip. I would take Vivi to the mall and my husband would take the Turtles off to the local Medicare office building in a desperate attempt to try and figure out why he hasn't been paid for the last nine months of work. (Alas, his pay has been foiled by a Kafka-esque scenario involving a change of address form. It would almost be funny if it wasn't our damn livelihood. But I digress...)
Anyway, back to the mall... We had no luck with the onesies and as Vivi and I were hightailing it around a corner trying desperately to get back out to the daylight, she stopped in her tracks and gasped in surprise. There, in all of his furry, festive, and belly-shaking glory, was Santa Claus. Vivi stood there motionless as she took in the scene.
I crouched down next to her and said, "V, you know, that isn't the real Santa Claus. The real Santa is at home busy making all the toys for the well-behaved girls and boys." All the while, I was thinking about how I hated the mall for putting me in this predicament.
"Mama, he is waving at me," she said in a whisper.
"You can wave at him if you'd like," I answered.
She waved and then blew him a kiss. He blew her a kiss.
I said, "Are you ready to go now?"
She nodded and we headed off in the opposite direction. When we were a few feet away, she said, "Mama, that was the real Santa Claus."
"Oh yeah? What makes you think so?"
"He waved at me so he must have known who I was. Plus, I don't think pretend Santas blow kisses."
That was enough to convince Vivi and her sincerity softened my crankiness about the commercialization of the holidays. It was a magical moment for her and I hope I will always remember it. I still don't think the real Santa hangs out at the stupid mall to charge people an arm and a leg for a photo though.