Last year, I knew it was the end of the era of dragging my teenage boys to see our Santa at the mall. We are fortunate that we have lived in one place for the past 16 years and have gotten to visit with "our Santa" at our mall most Christmases.
The first thing I did was to dig through my huge container of unorganized photos, my drawer of unorganized photos and my file folder marked "Santa Photos" from back I thought I was gonna get organized about 7 years ago. The folder was empty.
I was actually able to locate almost every yearly photo within 20 minutes. Which is shocking considering the current state of my craft space. Paper from wrapping gifts shoved onto the floor. Tubs of photos. And my iPad....because I apparently now need Netflix in order to craft. #netflixisthenewDr.Pepper
I used a little book that Starbucks sold along with their gift cards a few years ago. It had cute trees on it so I just added a Santa sticker. It is a lot like those skinny Moleskin journals like this one.
I taped two pages together on the sides and bottom to create a little pocket so that I could slide journaling tags into them.
I added a wallet sized photo and some stickers to indicate each year.
On each tag, I wrote a little note about the kids. For example, this photo is the last time David ever wore jeans. I had to make a deal with him to wear them for photos at Picture People and then he got to go and visit Santa. (Don't judge. It was 2002. Mall photos were still classy. Ish.)
I also included a few details, like what the kids liked at the time, asked for and even about their diagnosis with Asperger's Syndrome and Dyslexia. I just wanted Santa to feel like he was a part of their lives. I know, it sounds cheesy as I relate that. But it was pretty easy for memories and milestones to come back to me as I looked at these Santa photos.
I also included a note of the year there was a different guy at the mall and Max, at 6, got in the car as said dryly, "Well, that wasn't OUR Santa. I don't know who that guys was...."
I also included a memory of the time Santa looked me in the eye and said, "They are getting so tall. So much taller than last year. You are doing a great job raising them."
I got in the car and called my husband and said, "Santa Clause thinks I am doing a good job!"
Then I tied it together with a little ribbon.
I did, however, leave the last page blank and I took scissors and glue dots with me for the final photo.
We took sunglasses for the boys and Santa to wear on their last picture. Santa was all in. This is a bad photo of a photo because I "filed" my pictures in my flawed system of tossing all loose photos into a huge non archival-ly safe box. Also, that dang elf wouldn't let me just snap a photo of the boys and Santa with my phone. I was already buying the pictures in our selected package. But it seemed like a bad moment to go crazy mom on the 17 year old elf just doing her job....so I did not. #don'tbeTHATcrazymom
And then the boys gave him the mini-album. He stood up and looked at every page with them...much to the consternation of the people who were still standing in line with squirmy 2 year olds. And then he realized their were notes in it about the kids. He teared up. He said he was looking forward to sharing it with his wife that night. Mrs. Clause!
This guy is a part of our lives and forever in frames of Christmas photos that I pull out and sprinkle around the house in December. I just wanted to say thank you in a way that felt meaningful. Our Santa showed extraordinary kindness. And also, he showed up. Every year.
My kids talked about the importance of showing up and being kind on the way home. Thanks, Santa. You are doing a great job.