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Parents, let’s talk stranger danger and some sanity about Santa

(Jim Sharpe Photo)

As we piled into the car and headed towards the mall to see Santa on Sunday (yes, he’s already at the mall), I said to my wife, “I’m tired of all the election stuff I’ve been doing in my Sharper Point commentaries. Yeah, I could tell everybody about how disappointed I am in the anti-Trump protests, or how disappointed I am in Donald Trump because after he got elected as an outsider but he’s appointing insiders.

“But no, I think I’m gonna do something on Santa pictures!”

That’s it, I told myself! I’ll do something light and fun after this election season that has left us all feeling like a reindeer does at dawn on Dec. 26.

I proceeded to tell my wife all about my plan to assure parents that it’s OK to have a screaming, wailing kid in your 2016 Santa picture. In fact, it’s pretty funny.

Embrace it! It will be a treasured moment because it’s not perfect.

Then we got to the mall and proceeded to have a picture snapped with our two little girls on Santa’s lap.

On Santa’s right knee was a 3-year-old who was thrilled to be hanging out with the jolly old elf. On Santa’s left knee (when she actually sat still long enough for it to be considered on his knee) sat her 16-month-old sister, who acted like she was being kidnapped by the Grinch.

We felt like we paid way too much for the picture (at least when I handed the cashier my debit card), but assured ourselves that in the years to come we wouldn’t mention the price tag and would only smile at the picture.

Then, on the ride home, my wife told me about a trend she’s been seeing where people actually proclaim on the Internet that they’ll never force their kid to sit on Santa’s lap.

Why? Apparently, it’s emotionally bad for them!

At this point, I had to remind myself that I was operating a motor vehicle and that doing a facepalm while behind the wheel could lead to an accident, so I just rolled my eyes. (Just for a second mind you – the eye roll I wanted to do would’ve taken my eyes off the road for 15 to 20 seconds and might have actually permanently embedded my peepers in the top of my skull.)

Before we even got home, my wife had sent me an inbox full of articles about the dangers of lap-sitting with Kris Kringle.

One suggested that you should have your kid sit or stand next to Santa as opposed to on his lap. Immediately upon reading that, I said to myself, “Our little one would’ve been screaming either way!”

She had an answer for that, though: If your kid’s still screaming simply because they’re in the vicinity of Santa, maybe it’s time to just skip a visit to Santa altogether.

Another anti-Santa-lap-sitting article I read asks, is it really a good idea for us to tell our kids to stay away from strangers all year and then, just because he’s Santa, force them onto the lap of a stranger?

Oh please! Grandpa or Uncle Ted were also strangers at one point.

But this author goes darker and ends up in a place that I think is at the bottom of a lot of these anti-kids-visiting-Santa stories: they don’t trust Santa.

Stef Daniel writes at Professors House, “Seriously Mom and Dad, have you ever asked yourself why these grown men would WANT to stick around a mall all day with a bunch of bratty kids and let them sit on his lap?”

There it is: Santa’s helper is a creeper.

This is the same thinking that always gives me a slight hesitation when taking my daughters out in public alone.

Men just can’t be trusted with kids.

Ick.

That makes me sick. And the idea that some adult won’t have the chance to look back and laugh at themselves screaming on Santa’s lap because our trust in our fellow man is it such a low point makes me just plain sad.

I didn’t get a chance to Sunday (because I was too busy trying to get one happy and one screaming kid to look at the camera at the same time), but trust me: Next year, I’ll ask Saint Nick to give these anti-Santa-lap-sitters a big ol’ honkin’ lump of coal.

That is, if they don’t have an anti-Santa security device installed on their chimney.

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