If you have kids and you're wondering whether it's worth lugging them out this year to sit on the local Santa's lap, what you're about to see should convince you it's a worthwhile endeavor. Because just when all the bad news in the world was starting to make you feel a bit bah-humbug-ish, these five mall Santas remind us what the holiday spirit is all about. And, friends, you're going to want to see these kind-hearted Kris Kringles in action.
As soon as the tryptophan haze of Thanksgiving lifted, I started seeing fellow mom friends flood my social media feed with the same question: Should I take my kid to see the mall Santa this year? Some people weigh in with advice to take a hard pass — the wait can be long, line cutters can be a thorn in your side, and there's no guarantee your kid won't bawl or pull off Santa's makeshift beard. Still, barring those unfortunate hiccups, there's something so magical about seeing the wonder in your child's eyes as they stare up at the man they fully believe to be the fabled Santa Claus. I've never regretted taking my two small children, even the time my son managed to pee through his pull-ups and soak Mall Santa's velvety red pants.
In fact, it was in that particular Santa's reaction that I realized my kids aren't the only ones who get something out of those trips to see Saint Nick. After a quick Santa suit swap got things back on track, Mr. Mall Santa took the extra time to reassure me that it happens all the time and that my children were lovely little beings. It may have been a small gesture on his part, but it was one that was immeasurably appreciated by this mama who was equal parts flustered and embarrassed in that moment.
But should you need further proof mall Santas can be every bit as magical as your kids think they are, check out these five mall Santas who are making believers out of everyone.
1. Signing Santa
When a little girl from England with a hearing impairment sat on Santa's lap, no one could have predicted the sweet moment that ensued. Upon learning from the little girl's mom that she couldn't speak well but knew some sign language, Santa struck up a conversation through sign language neither the little girl nor her mother will soon forget.
2. Self-Acceptance Santa
After Michigan native Naomi Johnson took her son Landon to the RiverTown Crossings Mall, she felt compelled to take the story of her son's experience with the Santa to social media. On the mall's Facebook page, Johnson shared the tender interaction that occurred when her son told Santa he had autism. Santa's advice to Landon? It'll melt your heart.
3. Sleeping Santa
Most parents know the internal struggle that occurs when you reach your destination only to discover your child is still napping. Do you wake them? Do you sit in the car and wait it out? The Santa at Eastland Shopping Mall in Evansville, Ind., understands this predicament all too well, and recently received praise for telling the parents of a snoozing baby not to wake him. The resulting picture is priceless.
4. Empathetic Santa
When it comes to experience, it's hard to compete with the holiday pedigree of veteran mall Santa Ken Traveller — he has been delighting children at Tyson's Galleria in McLean, Va. for nearly two decades. And although one might think the 70-year-old Kris Kringle has heard it all before, he still often gets choked up by children's stories.
5. Soldier Surprise Santa
When three-year-old Madison Pholman climbed on her local mall Santa's lap, she wasn't asking for a baby doll or a coloring book. Rather, she was asking for a miracle — that her Army Staff Sergeant daddy, Josh Pholman, return from Afghanistan after nine months away. And, much to Madison's delight, Santa helped make that happen. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to spend the rest of the holiday season trying to figure out what's in my eye.