Meeting Mrs. Claus

Obviously I write a lot about my kids on this blog and in my Parenting Perspectives column (which you should look for tomorrow, btw). But the larger part of my job is writing articles for the SheSays section of The Forum.  While these are sometimes about moms or kids or parenting issues, they have little to do with my own family.

So it was a rarity when these two worlds collided earlier this month. I had the privilege of interviewing Fargo’s own Mrs. Claus, who is a constant figure at Santa’s Village at Rheault Farm. You can read the feature in today’s paper.

Ever since Eve was born in 2008, my family has made a yearly visit to the farm, to watch the toy train go round and round its tracks, to write a letter to Santa, to see the reindeer, to sit on Santa’s lap, and to make cookies with Mrs. Claus in the farmhouse’s kitchen.

I was glad to get a chance to know more about this woman who Eve has visited year after year, as have so many other local kids and families. It was an extra treat, a few days after I sat down with her, to bring Eve and newborn Owen into her kitchen. We had lots of fun as the kids poured sprinkles on their frosted sugar cookies.

Here’s a look at my own family’s interactions with Fargo’s Own Mrs. Claus through the years:

Here's Eve making cookies with Mrs. Santa in 2009. She was about 21 months old

And again in 2010 (age 2 1/2)

And again in 2011, now with little brother

You’d better not pout …

Last year, I wrote about Eve’s pleasant visit with the Jolly Old Elf. Friends warned me she wouldn’t be so agreeable the next year. Oh, were they right.

Things were certainly less than jolly when we stopped by Santa Village at Rheault Farms last Wednesday evening.

As we approached Santa, Eve clutched to her daddy’s jacket for dear life. Thankfully, it was a slow night, so Santa got up from his chair and approached her gently. He peered over his glasses at her. She peered back over her glasses at him. By the end of their visit, she seemed to think he was an OK guy, though she never did let go of Craig’s coat. 

For the next few days, Eve would randomly say “Santa.” When she did, I tried to get her excited about him, talking enthusiastically and showing her videos of Elmo visiting Santa. She’d had so much fun seeing the reindeer and model train at Santa Village, we decided to go back for a second visit that Saturday, thinking maybe this time she’d sit on his lap.

There was a long line late Saturday afternoon. As we snaked through the house, we pointed out stuffed Santa dolls. “Santa!” she’d exclaim.

Then she saw the live version. Immediately, she started crying. I held her on my lap and sat next to Santa. She kept crying. I told my husband to snap the photo anyway:

(Here’s a closer look at those tears)

A teenaged elf gave her a sucker. The tears stopped as quickly as they’d started. She decorated a cookie with Mrs. Claus.

Then, she asked for Santa.

Too late, we said. We weren’t going to wait in line for another 15 minutes, especially since she’d probably end up crying again.

I’m sure in a few years, she’ll run up to Santa, excited to see him and tell him what she wants for Christmas. For now, a little stranger anxiety isn’t a bad thing.

You’d better not pout, you’d better not cry, you’d better not shout, I’m telling you why …