When Nina Belle was a child, annual photos with Santa Claus were a family tradition. When she had a daughter, she assumed the tradition would continue.
As the mom from Australia wrote on her blog, Judgy Mummy, she’d always planned to take Santa photos with her children:
The childhood tradition of taking a photo with Santa was something I always looked forward to. I thought it was so cute when a photo would pop up on my Instagram feed of a family wearing matching Christmas outfits alongside Santa.
For their daughter’s first Christmas, Belle raised the issue of taking Santa photos and was astonished to find that her husband was completely opposed to the idea. She wrote:
When I casually raised it with him I was not prepared for his answer. “I’m not letting my daughter sit on some creepy old man’s lap!”, he declared. “Please do not take her,” he pleaded.
Thinking their daughter was too young and too shy of strangers to make an issue of it, Belle didn’t push the issue.
However, now that their little girl is 2 years old and no longer afraid of the stranger with a beard, Belle found herself in an awkward position. At the mall with a child clearly in awe of Santa, Belle had to fend off the offer of a Christmas photo:
She stood there and stared at him for a good five minutes. The photographer asked, “So would she like a photo with him?” “Oh no, her dad won’t allow her to take a photo with Santa,” I responded. She looked at me blankly. Realizing that it was probably a confusing statement I added: “I don’t know why… he just doesn’t like it.”
While Belle blamed her husband for the Santa photo ban, after thinking about it, she realized that she agreed with his opinion that “it’s creepy.”
Noting that “I wouldn’t let my child sit on a random man’s lap ever,” Belle pointed out that she teaches her child about both “stranger danger” and “appropriate physical contact.” Moreover, she believes in having others request “consent when approaching babies and children for cuddles and affection.”
Holiday tradition isn’t enough of a reason to do something she believes compromises those rules:
So just because there is a man in a red suit doing it, is it all of a sudden OK? I guess the same rules should still apply.
While it isn’t necessary to sit on his lap for a photo, Belle isn’t in favor of a photo standing next to Santa, saying that her daughter is so small that the picture would be “unbalanced.”
Belle adds that this isn’t an issue with Santa, but with the concept of sitting on a stranger’s lap. She told Dearly:
“Since my story was published people have made suggestions that my husband could dress up as Santa and surprise my daughter at our home which is something we’re considering. My husband is quite comfortable with that.”
Not wanting to deprive her child of the wonder of Christmas, the mom has found a compromise she can get behind: sending a letter to the North Pole. The Australia Post has a program that ensures each letter received by December 15 will get a reply.
The U.S. Postal Service offers a similar service. Parents can include Santa’s “reply” and their child’s letter in the same envelope, sent to Santa’s Postmaster (in Anchorage, Alaska). Letters have to be received by December 15, and more details are available on the USPS website.