You’d Better Watch Out

We didn’t bother prepping Dubsie for her first visit to Santa, because we knew it would be disappointingly brief. There would be no lap and no photo, and Santa would not get the chance to ask Dubsie what she wanted for Christmas because there would be too much crying.

We know this because last year we took Dubsie to an audience with a large, fluffy holiday creature, and this is what happened:

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That was on a hot April day in Houston, and what could be cuter than our daughter and her cousin cuddling with the Easter Bunny after an egg hunt? Though one did have to feel sorry for the Bunny, whose lot it was to receive a line of sweaty, sugar-crazed children while dressed from head to toe in a fur suit. Dubsie did not feel sorry for him. Dubsie pointed an accusing finger at his dilated pupils and fixed grin and hollered “No… NO!” as if he were some predator whose name belonged on a registry.

So naturally, when my sister offered us a private photo-op with Santa, we were dubious. It was a rainy late November day in Northern California, in the company of a different set of cousins. Santa was making an appearance at Ainsley House, a charming building in the English Tudor style. The trees twinkled and girl tweens in elf costumes handed out candy canes.

Santa addressed Dubsie when she walked into sight. “Well, you’re a cute little girl,” he said. “Do you want to sit on my lap?”

Dubsie walked right up and hopped on his lap.

“What would you like for Christmas?” Santa asked. Other kids had been scheming for this moment all year, but Dubsie was utterly unprepared, since her parents had assumed she harbored a distrust for cartoonish white-haired creatures.

She looked toward us expectantly for an answer, and finding none, she turned back toward Santa and couched her answer as considerately as possible. “What do you have?”

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