21 Years of Santa Photos

I’ve now been taking my children to see Santa for more than two decades.  I never thought I’d spend 21 years lining up in lengthy queues with hyped-up children who couldn’t stand in line for five minutes let alone the two hours it’s often been.  I thought I would share with you the interesting and varied and often frustrating times, but fabulous times I’ve had.

Here is Archie just before his first birthday.  He never had any fear of Santa (or any stranger) but I was quite alarmed by the eyebrows.

Christmas 1993

Christmas 1993

By the next Christmas we were a family of four with Miss Arabella being about 12 weeks old in this photo.  There were no tears as I passed her over for the photo shoot.  You can tell it was a very hot day by the grumpy Santa and the bare legs.

Christmas 1994

Christmas 1994

The next year we were back again and although Arabella had just turned one and is looking rather stunned, there were no tears.  Archie was always the type where if they offered him one toy, he’d ask for two.

Christmas 1995

Christmas 1995

The next year we were blessed to still have Archie with us as in the March of that year he’d nearly been killed.  With multiple injuries including two broken legs and nine months in a wheelchair, in this photo his knees are still swollen.  Santa could have tried to look a little happier.

Christmas 1996

Christmas 1996

In 1997 Archie had just finished pre-school and was about to go off to big school.  Miss Arabella was about to start pre-school.

Christmas 1997

Christmas 1997

The next year Santa looked a bit drugged.

Christmas 1998

Christmas 1998

Despite queuing for two hours, we got the photo!

Christmas

Christmas 1999

We’re now into a new millenium and not everything is new.  Miss Arabella is wearing the very same outfit she was wearing the year before.  Mostly because being her favourite, she wouldn’t take it off.  It’s at least two sizes too small for her.

Christmas 2000

Christmas 2000

In 2001 Miss Arabella started orthodontic work and she’s wearing braces.  Where is Santa’s face?

Christmas 2001

Christmas 2001

I cannot believe I paid money for the 2002 photo.  This was still back in the day where the images were shot on film so you had no chance of viewing them.  Weeks later (and long after Santa had packed up and fled to the North Pole), they arrived in the mail.  Had I known the photographer (if she could be called that) had taken a landscape image with nothing in focus I would have asked for my two-hours of time back.

Christmas 2002

Christmas 2002 – I think this is in a faux igloo or some sort of ugly ice-cave.

In 2003 we queued for over two hours while Archie and Arabella fought like cats and dogs and ran around the store with such speed it was like they’d been shot out of a canon.  I finally corralled them only to be taken into a little booth to find Santa was now Asian.  Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m quite sure the North Pole isn’t in Asia.

Christmas 2003

Christmas 2003

In 2004 Archie and Arabella refused to have their Santa photo taken.  I did try to encourage them to come with me but they’re both so stubborn.  I was almost full-term with Alfie and we were having the most hideous heatwave with temperatures of 45C (113F) so I couldn’t be bothered arguing.  Now of course they ask, ‘Where’s the Santa photo for 2004?’

In 2005 we had a new baby and started the process all over again.  Both Archie and Arabella were too cool to come with me so here is our ‘only child’ at 10 months of age.  He’d just started walking and again, no fear of strangers.

Christmas 2005

Christmas 2005

In 2006 I begged Archie and Arabella to be photographed with their little brother.  Archie had just finished his first year of high school so was too cool to sit on Santa’s knee.  Arabella came along because I promised her a full day of shopping.  Santa looks over it.

Christmas 2006

Christmas 2006

In 2007 I managed to get all three children in the one photo.  Little Alfie was so excited to be meeting Santa that by the time it was our turn (another lengthy queuing session) he was stunned into silence.  Couldn’t even smile for the photo.  Arabella is wearing her second round of braces.  Archie had just knocked out some teeth and was also having some orthodontic work.  I don’t know why he’s not sitting up straight.

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2007

In 2008 I again asked Archie and Arabella do the right thing and be in Alfie’s Santa photo.  They both agreed.  In the morning of the day of the excursion, I tried to wake Arabella but she refused to get out of bed.  Just like his big brother, when you’re offered one balloon, why not ask for two!

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2008

In 2009 Alfie is just so over-excited he’s in hyper-drive.  Miss Arabella is going through a fake-tan phase and Archie is realising that you can look really cool with a pair of raybans.

Christmas 2009

Christmas 2009

In 2010 I couldn’t muster the teenagers.  Social schedules just too full and what teenager wants to spend a day in town with his mother.  Here’s our ‘only child’ again doing his best to smile but no one seems to be looking at the camera.  Another Santa with no face.

Christmas 2010

Christmas 2010

In 2011 I discovered the real Santa resides at the Queen Victoria Building.  He has a real beard, is unbelievably jolly and sits in a crystal palace.  Archie was just back from his Gap Year and Miss Arabella was about to head into her final year of school.  All teenagers were present as I promised them dinner at the Chinese restaurant in the QVB which is sensational.  We had a fantastic night in the city with Alfie again, being so happy and excited.  He is now six.

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

In 2012 we were back to see Santa at the QVB.  Again, an all-expenses paid dinner was promised to the teenagers.  This is what they gave me in return…

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

With Archie and Arabella both working in pubs and restaurants at night, this year’s Santa visit was almost an impossibility.  There was a window of just one day.  The plan was that I would take Alfie into the city and get in the queue.  Drew would bring the others as soon as Archie had finished work at 4.30pm and Miss Arabella had finished at a Christmas lunch.  However, when Alfie and I arrived at 4pm the queue to see Santa stretched until 8.30pm that night.  You have to queue for hours to see the real Santa.  We were meant to see him in the afternoon then head to a dinner at my sister’s house but we re-shuffled our plans and went to the dinner first, gobbled it down and rushed back to the QVB.  We arrived at two-minutes to nine with Santa leaving at 9pm but he is so jolly and lovely he said he’d been waiting for us all year!  This Santa only works as Santa.  He does this job for six weeks every year then returns to Bali where he can live off his earnings for the rest of the year.  The benefits of being Santa!

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

But just so you know some things never change…

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

This year there was a full turn-out but Archie arrived in a singlet top he had earlier worn to the gym and his father was running behind him with an ironed shirt suggesting he change into it for the photo.  ‘No, not wearing it, Dad, I’ll look like a tool’, said Archie so here he is in his singlet top.  Alfie refused to put on shoes so is just in his thongs but I’ve decided, you have to pick your battles and this wasn’t one of them.  Poor old Santa was looking very tired this year.

2014

2014

And it’s just not a photo shoot unless you can pull a silly face.

Beautiful faces, 2014

Beautiful faces, 2014

And that’s the journey so far.  I wonder how long it will continue.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Comments

  1. Funny or sweet, singly or as a trio, your yearly Santa visit pictures are a great treat to see. Merry Christmas.

  2. OMgosh,
    this is fabulous.
    I wish I would have done this w/ my boys.
    PRICELESSS, Charlie.

    xxxx PS. Your Australian Santa is Adorable!

  3. What a sensational post Charlie, thanks for sharing it with us. I don’t think we ever had Santa photos, maybe one. I guess it wasn’t a thing for Europeans. Too bad though, it would have been fun to see a retrospective like yours.
    Merry Christmas to you too! XOXO

  4. Hi Charlie, this is a real keeper, love to see the changes from year to year. Happy Holidays!

  5. Thanks for sharing, Charlie. This was special indeed. I kept thinking, especially when she was younger, just how very much Arabella looks like you. Wishing you and yours the best of the holidays.

  6. This post shows such family love. I thoroughly enjoyed scrolling through the photos with Santa. They tell stories of growth and fashion and family interaction and love. Just beautiful. Even the silly ones. What a treasure.

  7. What a fantastic Blog Charlie 🙂 and the wonderful memories you and your kids have… I’m sure deep down they really love it 🙂 I look forward to next year as well as another witty story 🙂 Liz x

  8. I loved your retrospective last year and I looked forward to it again this year! I just adore your children, all three of them, Charlie. Merry Christmas to your wonderful family…and a special hug to you.

  9. What a great post Charlie. So funny to see all your Santa shots lined up like this. Merry Christmas Charlie- the craziness has begun.

  10. What a wonderful tradition and one all three of them will cherish. Merry Christmas to all of you from the three of us.

  11. I love these Charlie. They are always so fun to see each holiday. I love that you have shots from each year. It’s so fun to see how the children have grown. 🙂 Happy holidays!

  12. WOW, what a priceless collection, you could do a fast moving montage and see the kids growth. Great 21st treat!!

  13. These photos and commentary just make me giggle! My kids were the type who clung to me and cried so I don’t think we have even one Santa photo. What treasures you have here! xo

  14. Remember the last few, especially the faces 🙂 ! Must really fish out my lot tho’ I do not have all the years for certain . . . . you are very much better organized!!!! The one Q in my ‘stupid’ mind at the moment is ‘Did Santa arrive in a Jeep?’ . . . poor, poor Rudolph being relegated to the North Pole with his amigos!!!!

  15. G’day What a great post Charlie with lot of wonderful Santa memories!
    Cheers! Joanne

  16. Totally adorable Charlie! You must have had a giggle or two putting this together. Looks like some of those Santa’s weren’t really in the Christmas spirit though!

  17. I commend your discipline for having done that all these years.

  18. Oh please let it continue for ever and ever. That is such a wonderful thing to have Charlie. Love it to bits.
    And a book, there must be a book!

  19. FABULOUS PICTURES!!!

  20. They are so cute! Love how they’ve changed throughout the years. And I must admit that the eyebrows are a little alarming! 😛

  21. I love this Charlie and am also going to inflict it on my Children. Archie and Ollie look about the same size in their first Christmas photos.

  22. I’m surprised at your comment about the Asian Santa. Personally I think Santa can be of any ethnicity.

    • Yes, equal opportunity for all however, my children had a vision in mind and that vision came from previous visits and books they’d read. This Santa was different from what they were expecting so it came as a surprise.

  23. what a lovely post! ive always found these santas to be a bit creepy tho!

  24. I love this!! It’s so fun to see all the kids through the years!

  25. What a great set of photos, Charlie! Your children grow right before our eyes. Glad that Archie and Arabella have joined in, again. These are photos that all 3 will only cherish more as time passes. A few of those Santas, however look anything but jolly. 🙂

  26. Oh, what fun – Charlie – and to see your kids growing thru the years – special photos.

  27. OMG, Charlie!!! What a cute transformation. Great planning on this task! You do a great job at mementos 😉

    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

  28. How fabulous to have all those memories. What fun for the trio to look back on . I’m not sure I could have got the Glam’s to queue for that long, even to see Santa. Have a wonderful Christmas. GG xx

  29. I can’t tell you how happy I am that Santa only works six weeks of the year and spends the rest of his time on a beach in Bali! 😀 Too gorgeous Charlie, although I’m impressed the big kids are still willing to play along. You’ll be promising them a car each when they’re in their 30s to come along for their Santa photos! Hahaha…

  30. This is such a fun post and I’m sure full of wonderful memories for you! Some of those Santas are pretty funny. Merry Christmas!

  31. Would you believe I just told my husband the other day about your tradition and was wondering if you would have a photo shoot with Santa again this year. Santa does look a little tired…he will definitely have to rest on the beach in Bali. 🙂

  32. What a wonderful tradition, Charlie. Loved seeing this series of photos… priceless! Happy holidays to you and yours xox

  33. ah charlie this is so very cute. thanks for sharing. have a wonderful xmas and new year. hope you are feeling ok after the terrors of the siege last week. it makes me cry whenever i think of those poor children without their mum for xmas.
    xx

  34. BRILLIANT! I heart this post soooo much. My bro and I used to do the Santa pics as a silly gift for mom when we were teenagers, but stopped in our twenties. Wish we didn’t, this is priceless. LOL!
    I am in Asia for the next couple of weeks, so access to the inter webs will be sporadic, wishing you a wonderful Christmas lovely Charlie, hope Santa spoils you. xo

  35. Littlej is contractually obligated to have a Santa photo every year until she moves out. I do try to go really early or really late to skip those horrendous lines, but we’ve had our share of miserable waits as well. What an awesome job that Santa has! Bali sounds much nicer than the North Pole! Xox

  36. Charlie, I thoroughly enjoyed this post and what an incredible walk down memory land this must have been for you … some of those stories made me giggle because I’m sure most Mums have had those very same battles with the Santa Photo! xx

  37. I love all the santa photos 🙂 I wish my parents would take to Santa every year haha I think I only had photos until I was 10 and that was it love how the teenagers didn’t want photos and it was Alfie left poor baby! But now they’re into the photos again which is good!

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