A bit after the fact but inspired by capturing an actual smile this year, I pulled out all three of Oskar’s Father Christmas photos to see how his relationship with the fat man in red has changed. Because this is the year that the rather nebulous concept of Santa Claus crystallised into the realisation that this guy comes to your house and gives you presents. He doesn’t even know you but he wants to shower you with gifts. And who hasn’t had that fantasy at some point?
Watching Oskar grapple with this idea made me realise that the whole Santa thing really is kind of weird when you’re approaching it for the first time. I read him ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and when I got the last page, where Rudolph triumphantly leads a team of fairweather reindeer friends in pulling Santa’s sleigh, I explained to Oskar that this whole deal was going to happen, very soon, in his own house. But let’s back up a minute here. Because have you ever thought about what that carol teaches children? “Then all the reindeer loved him!” Oh, but only after he won a coveted leadership position. To be honest, it is a fairly accurate picture of our society. Let’s just mix that bitter little pill in with some warm, fuzzy fantasy material. Mmm… tastes good.
But back to the reindeer, sleigh, chimney thing. So, I told Oskar that Father Christmas would be landing his sleigh right here, in our backyard and leaving presents in the lounge, underneath the Christmas tree. He paused; looked perplexed. His eyes travelled from me, to the book, to his bedroom window, which overlooks the backyard. I could see his mind ruminating on this piece of very unlikely news—that a man was going to somehow land a sleigh and nine reindeer on an inner city terrace before materialising through the glass to leave gifts because it’s his raison d’etre. He still seemed uncertain when it came time to snuggle down to sleep. In hindsight, it would have been more believable if I told him Santa was going to land on the corner apartment’s terrace. It’s larger.
Anyhow, regardless of whether he thought Santa was capable of parallel parking a sleigh, he realised it was important to be nice in this year’s Santa photo. He dutifully approached Father Christmas, told him his full name when asked, sat on his lap, asked for a car and smiled on cue.
At his first Santa visit, in 2010, he sat serenely, playing with the lovely fluffy stuff on Santa’s cuffs until he realised if I was jumping up and down and trying to make him smile, and Dada was taking his picture, who the hell was holding him? Then he made what I like to call ‘The Gymbaroo Face’, so named because it was the face he made every single Thursday when I wasted $20 a lesson on taking him to a baby class he hated and invariably cried at, just so I could enjoy some adult contact.
In 2011, a hot and humid 19 month old fretted over what the humidity had done to his hair while being forced to sit with someone he didn’t know but who had somehow managed to tame his waves, despite the high moisture content in the air, thereby making Oskar look bad.
This year we took him on Christmas Eve day. Because we’re the kind of crazy cats who like to do stupid shit like that. Here’s the thing though: it was actually easier than the previous two years we’ve taken him. Most other parents realise what a completely dumb idea it is and make sure they get the visit out the way earlier in the season. Leaving only idiots like ourselves to enjoy what turned out to be a blissfully short waiting time on the actual day. Here’s how 2012 turned out.
He asked for a car.
I have to confess that he actually had some prep work leading up to this visit. His nanny took him and his little nanny-share buddy a few weeks prior so he was practically an old hand this time. I don’t have a copy of the photo from that visit but that’s probably just as well: he is wearing red lipstick and scowling like an angsty teenager. Probably because the nanny took his handbag away before they took the shot. That’s a picture that deserves its very own post.