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Santa Line Survival Guide


Two seconds before a full core meltdown.

Getting your picture taken with Santa is great, yet, waiting in line sucks so back you can taste it.

It’s a necessary parental hell with a big payoff.

I’ll paint you a picture: You turn a mall corner to find a double wide line that looks like half a km long full of anxious kids and angry/bored adults. You hear yourself utter the words, “This is bullshit” under your breath. Your spouse queries as to the content of your utterance. You say, “I said ‘let’s do this'” and settle in for a test of your social decency.

Tip 1: Bring food

Sure you can run out and grab a coffee, but you, your other and the spawn are most likely going to get hangry. Bring three levels of snacks. Short term healthy (apple/banana), long term healthy (granola bar/GORP) and short term equalizer (chocolate/candy) with the latter being a last ditch effort to sustain sanity. Also, water.

Tip 2: Get in line ASAP

Standing around making a multi-tiered game plan only adds to the amount of time you are going to be spent in this stinky purgatory. Get in line, then debate the specifics of bathroom needs vs. semantic indifference. Get in that shit. Everything else is secondary. By starting sooner you bring for the glorious climax quicker.

Tip 3: Talk to your kids about Santa

Keep them focused. Talk about how excited they should be about meeting the big man. Make up a Santa origin story as if it is folklore. Add a couple extra super hero powers. He can dig really fast, can’t get drunk, can see through clothes…those types of things. Also, let them know that he has super hearing and can hear them right now so, all you have to do is whisper to Santa while in the line and he can hear you. That should give you some leverage.

Also talk to your spouse about how Santa might shock your world. For example, he may be younger than you. Thinner. More fit. As my wife called him, “Yoga Santa” (pictured above) had perfect teeth. Got a bit of Santa envy going on right now.

Tip 4: Avoid the vomit

Add kids, excitement and long lines and someone is going to eventually puke. It is a universal truth. Keep a constant survey of your area. There are dangers everywhere. If you aren’t diligent, the next thing you know is that you’ll be have to explain to Santa why your child smell’s like barf but don’t worry, it’s not his.

I say this because there was some vomit involved in our Santa experience this year. I thought it was ice cream. I was wrong.

Tip 5: Try to have a good time

You know, make friends. Socialize. There are people in front of you and people behind you. Compliment them on their parenting. Tell a few tasteful yet adult flavoured jokes. Let them know that, if they need it, you have a flask of whiskey in your boot. And a knife.

Tip 5.2:

Just the first three sentences of tip 5.

Tip 6:

Embrace the magical cacophony that is a group of strangers with a shared goal. This ain’t no bank line. This isn’t a grocery store (I assume). You are going to see commercial Jesus. Suck it in and breath the season. Let your inner child freak flag fly. Be assimilated by the holidays. Do it. It will galvanize you. You will be a glorious butterfly pulling pollen from the knee of ‘he who giveth all the things’. It is too hard to fight.

Tip 7:

When you get there, talk to Santa like he is a relative. You don’t want to freak your kids out. No child pep talks like, “Holy shit, holy shit, don’t screw this up ok? Get up there, tell him what you want, and don’t puke scream. This is your only chance.” None of that. Santa is your buddy. He may even owe you a few favours (bodies don’t bury themselves am I right?).

Talk TO Santa, not AT him, and all will be well.

*Our first trip to the SC at West Edmonton Mall was sullied by my line incontinence. Last year, Telus would take your cell number and text you to let you know when you should come back and get your pics taken. It was great. We shopped and boom, Santasm (watch at your own risk). But this year, I chickened out because that option wasn’t there, but more important, I’m a moody idiot. The next day we went to Kingsway Mall and I was more mentally prepared. Things went better. 

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