Later, the plumber came out and I restored order to our home turned upside down (read: mopped up standing water in the downstairs storage and laundry rooms). I suddenly felt the desperate need to get out of the house, so I decided to take the kids to see Santa at a nearby mall.
Surprisingly, Tory was really excited to see Santa Claus this year and squealed with delight when I told her the plan for our afternoon. After a bit of thought, she asked "How will we get all the way to the North Pole?" "Oh, Santa made a special trip to the mall today, so we'll go see him there," I answered. "Oh, good," audibly letting go of a huge breath of air, "because the North Pole is really far away," she said.
Before we left home, I asked Tory to write a letter to Santa with a list of things she'd like to receive for Christmas. She sat down at the table and very seriously completed the Official Santa Letter I'd printed from the Internet.
This Christmas, I am 3 years old.
This year, I have been nice.
My Christmas wishes are: a princess dress that fits me just right.
I asked Tory if there was anything Aden wanted her to add to the letter on his behalf and she responded, "A dollhouse." (I think so he'll stop playing with hers). We placed Tory's letter to Santa Claus, along with a picture she'd colored the day before, in an envelope and brought it with us to the mall.
We saw the same Santa Claus we've visited every year since Tory was born (2011, 2012, 2013). Tory talked non-stop about seeing "Santer Claus" on the drive to the mall, but when we pulled into the parking lot she got a little nervous. As we walked up to the Santa Claus display in the mall's main atrium, Tory froze still. The mall was pretty quiet and there wasn't anyone else at the Santa display, so The Big Guy noticed her watching and waved hello. We walked up Santa Claus and Tory handed him her list, but refused to talk and avoided eye-contact. I placed Aden on Santa's lap and convinced Tory to sit on the stool set out beside Santa for a picture. In the time it took me to position Tory on the stool, Aden realized a man with a big white beard was holding him and erupted in tears. An employee snapped their photo with Santa Claus, and I paid a ridiculous $22 for capturing the moment on film.
Believe me when I say Tory was excited to see Santa Claus. Afterwards, she recited the experience to me in the most positive light, so I know she wasn't afraid; maybe just awe-struck or nervous. I took the kids to the mall's kids area afterwards and Aden experienced his first opportunity to play on the toys, so all of his troubles were soon forgotten.
Andi said later I was glutton for punishment taking the kids to see Santa Claus, but nah - it wasn't too bad. It gave us something fun to do on a day that didn't start out so fantastically.