Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. James 1:26
This time of year holds many special traditions for our family.
One of them being Santa Claus pictures. Since my children were birthed, we have taken them to see Santa Claus at a local mall. I have 13 pictures proudly displayed on my kitchen counter representing each year the kids saw Santa. Until this year.
Let me explain...
Monday of this week rolled around and I gasped. Literally, out loud, I gasped.
"We haven't had our annual Santa pictures taken! We must get to the mall now!"
The kids and I jumped into the car and drove the 45 minute drive to the mall.
My thirteen year old son was less than thrilled. I can't imagine why.
We walked right up to the picture line for Santa. I squealed because there was NO one in line. NO one. God had shone His favor all over us!! I just knew it!!
I proudly stood there with my children in tow ready for our annual Santa picture.
The [not so kind] elf man said, "I am sorry, ma'am, but Santa is going on an hour break."
In the sweetest voice I could find I replied, "Oh, sir, but this will only take a second. My kids are big, they smile easily, and they will be done in just a few minutes. Simple!"
The elf man replied, "Umm, no, I am sorry. You will have to come back, Ma'am."
My face started to get flushed. The back of my neck was starting to feel prickly. I could feel my emotions rising a little too quickly.
"Sir, I will buy the biggest package you offer if you will just let us get one quick picture!"
The elf man looked at me like I had totally insulted him. Well, I suppose I did.
"Ma'am, we only have one size package. That's the only package you will be able to get. Now, I am sorry. Come back later."
I felt like I was in a bad Christmas movie. You know, the ones where the Mother goes nuts over the smallest thing going awry? Well, yeah, that was me. The nutty, Christmas sweater wearing, Mother.
My thirteen year old son took my arm and said, "Mom, let's go. Please."
I lingered for a moment, hoping to catch Santa's eye. Surely if he saw how distraught I was he would offer to stay another minute and have one last picture with my oh-so-darling-children.
For a moment, I wished that I had re-applied my lip gloss and combed through my wind-blown hair. Maybe then I could have caught Santa's eye. [terrible, I know]
Santa wasn't budging. Neither was his elf man.
Off we walked into the bleak blur of hustle and bustle. Tears stung my tired eyes. I couldn't keep them from running down my face.
I failed. No Santa picture. No nothing.
I wasn't sure if I was more upset about not having the picture with Santa, or embarrassing myself trying to bribe the elf man. Ugh.
Eventually, I succumbed to the fact that this year we would have no Santa picture. Oh well. The world would not end.
Until the next day...
I had a revelation! There was another mall! I could take the kids to see Santa there! This time, I called the mall. They assured me that Santa would be there ALL day.
He was. Until it was time for his break. The minute we walked up to see him. I am NOT kidding. The little elf girl told me to come back in an hour and a half.
I prayed for Jesus to take the wheel of my tongue. I had to bite my tongue down hard, and I mean hard.
I walked off with the kids with my head bowed down in despair. With each step, praying fervently that I could make it to the car before having my melt down.
We got half way to the car and I had an idea. A smile crossed my praying lips.
We went right back to the Santa picture line where everyone had left for their hour and a half break. [good grief] I told my kids to sit right down in Santa's chair and I would take their picture. [I thought this was a brilliant idea!]
However, my kids were too scared to sit in Santa's chair without him there. [ohhh, so NOW you become rule followers!!]
Biting my tongue, yet rolling my eyes, I replied, "Fine. Just stand there and I will take your picture."
"But Mom, what if they see us and we get in trouble?"
I responded in a [scary] calm voice, "I DARE them to say something."
The kids smiled. The crazy momma [me] took the picture. And off we went.
We got our picture. Just without Santa. [picture at bottom of post]
I was happy. They were happy. It was a wrap.
So, I learned a few things these last couple of days.
One...take the kids to see Santa earlier!
Two...I have issues.
Three...I really should have better control over my flesh in times like these.
Four....Praying saved me from making front page of the local newspaper for not controlling my tongue.
Five.... the world will not end if things don't go exactly like I plan. In fact, it just makes for a better story to talk about next year.
We will laugh about this, life will go on, and I will have a picture to frame for my kitchen counter. It will just be Santa-less.
That's okay. Christmas is about Jesus. The Joy He brings. The Peace He brings. Especially to a distraught Christmas-sweater wearing momma.
Merry Christmas, friends!
May His Love surround you and may His Peace cover you.
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11