Excerpt of a conversation with Squishy, repeatedly taking place over the last two weeks:
It still has not ceased to amuse me that my daughter pronounces the most famed and revered of childhood idols "Stinky Socks." I'm not entirely sure that it amused Old St. Socks himself when we visited him at the mall the other day. Upon further consideration, I'm not sure which he objected to more: his new moniker or the screaming, utterly terrified two-year-old being thrust into his lap. Not that this is unknown territory for him. Which brings me to today's self-analytical topic...
Why do we subject ourselves and our children to the mall Santa ritual?
To be fair, we actually did have a great time the other day. It was just me, Captain Picklepants and Squishy. The line for Mr. Socks wasn't too bad, only about 15 minutes (although we were made to wait in a Giant Snow Globe during that time. Cool, yes, but I think more than a few people were inclined to hand me a bottle of Head and Shoulders for the rest of the afternoon. But I digress...). Squishy saw Santa, ("Stinky Socks, Mommy! Stinky Socks!") pointed, waved, got closer, got a little clingier, sat on his lap, and cue the wail. It started out low. Then it started to grow.
WWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH!!!!!!!! NO NO NO NO MORE STINKY SOCKS MOMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
So they snapped the picture, I took her off his lap, and as she wiped her tears away, she sat up and waved, "Bye bye Stinky Socks!" blowing him kisses all the while.
The bitchy elves assumed I didn't want the picture. One of the few words spoken to me during the entire heartwarming experience: "But she's crying." "Yeah. So? I'll put it in her scrapbook next to the Easter Bunny, where she's also screaming like she stuck her fingers in a blender."
Silly, crabby elves.
So why do I do it? Why do I and millions of other parents plop their tots on a perfect stranger's lap, simply because he's dressed head to toe in red fur and says "Ho Ho HO?" In certain circles, he would be considered a pimp.
Did I really just write that?
Way off topic there, sorry. My answer would be, because it's a ritual. I cling to rituals, especially around Christmas. I begin new ones to add to the old ones, I pass them on to my kids, I love them verily. I get my tree Thanksgiving weekend, I bake peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses on them, I buy my brother a cheap comb for reasons I still don't totally understand. (I inherited that particular ritual) I hang on my tree ornaments I've hung every years since I made them in nursery school. And maybe not next year, but the year after that, Squishy won't cry. Maybe she'll hug Stinky Socks and ask for a new dolly. Which should be right about the same time Captain Picklepants starts rolling his eyes when we stand in line to see the Big Guy in Red.
Timing is everything.
Perhaps I will write in my daily journal one more time over the next 19 days, so I can wax sentimental about the holidays some more. Maybe that can be a new ritual too.
Either way, his name in our house will forevermore be...Stinky Socks. That's one of our new rituals.
That, and beating up mall elves. They can be so damn cranky, and I have no idea why.