A woman in her thirties understands this is totally normal behavior, by the way. I wasn't the least bit concerned while Anna explored the department store beforehand. If we got a good picture, great. If we got a bad picture, well, we'd chalk it up to a rite of passage.
It went exactly as I expected. Aaron was totally chill, just checking things out and happy to bounce on Santa's leg. Anna... well... not so much.
Here's where things get dicey. When I saw the pictures, I burst out laughing. I mean, seriously. That's a funny picture. The look on her face, the look on Santa's face, Aaron's double chin... Come on. That's funny.
'You think it's funny that you traumatized your child?' I heard a voice say.
Wha? It was the voice of the elf, the woman who took the picture. I was so stunned that I couldn't say anything at first. I was holding Anna, whispering in her ear that everything was okay, and thought to myself, 'What is it about the holidays and people judging the crap out of each other?'
'We'll take that one,' I said, probably a little too loudly, when the 'elf' said we didn't have to buy the pictures. Then Santa worked on the hard sell, trying to get me to buy some cheap light-up frame so we could treasure our holiday memory.
Honestly, I love the holidays. I love Christmas. I love the church part, I love the commercial part. So when I got my bearings together after the adventure was over (Aaron screamed the entire ride home, by the way), I took a minute to reflect upon the picture. Was I a bad Mom for buying it? Was I a bad Mom for thinking it was hilarious? Maybe that elf was right, maybe I'd irreparably traumatized my child....
Nope. It was still funny. And I'm pretty sure Anna will agree someday. A woman in her thirties learns to love all the moments in life, even the ones that don't turn out perfectly.