You probably don’t remember the first time you sat on Santa’s knee. People were probably goo-ing and gaa-ing at you, jumping around with toys behind a camera trying to make you smile.
You may not remember whether or not you smiled, but there is a photo somewhere that will tell you how it went down.
You will, however remember your own children's first Santa photo. You'll remember goo-ing and gaa-ing at them and jumping around behind a camera with toys and a big smile on your face.
I will remember you and your children too.
I was a Santa photographer. I was the lady behind the camera, clicking her fingers and jiggling toys at babies and toddlers on Santa's knee. I loved my job. I loved listening to Christmas carols on repeat for a month straight. I enjoyed chatting with my jolly Santa when the lines were low. I enjoyed watching kids in matching Christmas outfits sit on Santa's knee and loved seeing their faces light up when they got to speak with the man himself.
But what I didn't enjoy were the parents who came in and wanted a one-week-old baby to smile. The parents that wouldn't give up until their newborn had the perfect smile shining across their face. Or the parents who forced their quivering two-year-old to sit on Santa's knee while they howled a scream that you only imagine in nightmares - because for them it was their nightmare.
To all the parents who exhausted themselves only to walk away with a photo they were disappointed with, I have a message for you.
A newborn baby doesn't know how to smile. Don't worry if it's just a photo of your tiny bundle laying emotionless on Santa's lap. They're still cute and you will remember that moment for what it was.
A toddler is taught to be wary of strangers. So when you tell them to go and sit on a strange man's lap, a man whose face you can barely see behind a white beard and red suit and hat, don't be surprised if they freak out. Don't force a quivering, screaming child to sit on a strange man's lap while you dance around behind a camera.
Either drop the screaming child, run out of shot and laugh a little before rescuing them from the lap of fear. Or sit with them and be ok about being in the photo. They're funny times, you will remember that moment for what it was.
So to the parents who want that 'perfect' Santa photo. From the lady behind the camera. Stop trying to make your unsmiling children smile. Because when you look back at that photo of an unsmiling child, you'll remember that moment for what it was. For what it really was. And that's the best memory of all.
What's the funniest Santa photo you've been in?