santa, baby?

I was cleaning a house the other day and in the midst of dusting, I came across the seemingly obligatory photo of baby upon Santa’s lap. I was struck with the question … why do we do this? As Americans, why *do* we do this? Why do we foist our babies upon the knees of strangers in costumes for a picture to commemorate the birth of Christ?

Everything about it seems so weird given the following:

1. It happens at Christmastime, which is ostensibly to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, yet the pictures are with Santa Claus, who has some ties to St. Nicholas, but they are loose to say the least.

2. If infants, the child has no agency in the matter, and many babies (and toddlers alike) seem to find the process completely and utterly terrifying, given the innumerable pictures of babies shrieking and crying in horror.

3. Speaking of which, I can’t think of any other time when you would hand over your child to an utter stranger in a shopping mall in full costume that obscures most of their face for a random-ass picture (save for the Easter Bunny, of course).

4. For older children, there is the ongoing controversy about creating and/or perpetuating a lie that inevitably will be dashed at some time in the child’s future — and will be thus be revealed to your child’s betrayer for a lie that you initiated.

Upon examining these things, it sure does seem like kind of a weird thing we do. And I bet more than one of you has a mildly scary experience with ol’ Santa. So why?

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