Two Decades with Santa

I’ve now been taking my children to see Santa for two decades.  I never thought I’d spend 20 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 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 bare legs.

Christmas 1994

Christmas 1994

The next year we were back again and although Arabella had just turned two 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, 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 an 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 refused 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.  The only window we had was yesterday.  The plan was that I would take Alfie into the city and get in the queue.  Carl 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

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

Merry Christmas!

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Comments

  1. I admire your persistence year after year after year. The story of 1996 was the most memorable though looking at Archie’s smiling face you’d never know that anything had happened. Your 3 lovely children are such treasures even with the occasional difficult time. :)

  2. ohmyfreakinggosh 2012 just cracked me up! that’s so great that you have a record of all the santa photos!

  3. Lovely post, Charlie! Gotta love the last Santa, you got to see him at least twice! Was it the same guy in 2012 as well?

  4. That is a great over view of all your visits. You have certainly done the hard yards. Very funny.
    Carolyn

  5. I haven’t gone to see Santa in decades! Perhaps I should brave the queues to see him this year!? :D Very cute walk down memory lane!

  6. OMG that was so amazing to see, really enjoyed that :)

  7. What an incredible record of your family, and of your own dedication!

  8. Oh Charlie, this is brilliant. Good on you for persevering all those years and having these decades of shots to show for it! Watching them change (and outgrow Santa’s actual lap ;) ) is brilliant and I’m sure makes up for those painful years when people didn’t want to be there – or rewarded your efforts with, well, ‘unusual’ Christmas faces!

  9. This is so beautiful and so precious to take pictures for every year with Santa and then to get a wonderful collection. You are amazing dear Charlie, Blessing and Happiness to you All, and Merry Christmas too. Thank you, love, nia

  10. How fabulous, I’m quite sure the Glam teens wouldn’t have been up for this for so many years – for a n y dinner! How great to have such a wonderful family history of every Christmas. GG

  11. I LOVE 2012. And what a wonderful tradition for all three of them to look back on!

  12. Aww I love these!!!

  13. I absolutely, absolutely love these photos and your accompanying words. What love. What a family you have. You are blessed. Blessed.

  14. These are great! What a fun tradition, and everyone must love looking back at all the photos. Merry Christmas, early!

  15. These are great! Thanks so much for posting them for us all to enjoy!

  16. Fascinating! I’ve never cared about the fact that my family never did the Santa photos, but seeing your kids grow up through this procession of photos… AWESOME.

  17. That was such fun. I love seeing photos like these, in a series where you can see the kids change. Arabella really looks like you–especially as a child. All cute. I didn’t have this option with Zack here in Mexico, which is too bad! Thanks for sharing. I hope you and your family enjoy the best of the holidays and new year.

  18. Oh my….best post ever!!!! This was so fun to look at!

  19. I love seeing the progression of your kids through the last 20 years! How amazing and special. XO.

  20. I love the progression! Merry Christmas, Charlie!

  21. Love it Charlie! Such a history is priceless and that last photo’s a scream! I’ve told littlej that the Santa photo is obligatory until she moves out of home, so there should be many years of happy-snaps left :)
    We were at a Westfeild last night and watched for nearly an hour as families could bring their pets too be photographed with Santa. It was gorgeous, with some of the dogs definitely big enough to pull the sleigh! I did actually noticed though, that the behaviour of the furry friends was certainly much better than the usual run of toddlers :)

  22. How terrible waiting that long for a photo but how worthwhile it has been to have this wonderful record of your kids year by year – just fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing them with us.

  23. Great tradition!

  24. Charlie – a busy Sat pm and I am laughing myself hoarse!! I always think myself as a pretty good office manager: I went on the same journey but for about ten years [after that they just blank refused!!] and I do not have all of mine :) ! This is absolutely fabulous . . . am doing a number of reposts tomorrow/Monday for Yule – wish I had your email in case this should become part of the Xmas story :) !

  25. Wow the Santas of the 90s were happy folk.. not! Sure they had to do it a million times a day but how hard is it to smile?
    Such a wonderful tradition Charlie I can’t wait to start it with bubba.
    Archie looks the same at 11 months as he does now! I would have been a bit anti Asian Santa too.

  26. WOW!!
    What a wonderful family pictorial! You are such a trooper to have managed to wrangle all the kids into a picture together most years!!!
    Great story xx

  27. What a lovely, lovely post and such a nice family tradition :)

  28. OMG Charlie I cant believe you got to use all those Santa photos. A very clever idea and i loved looking at them. I can see that this is now going to be a bit of a competition for you though,………oh no

  29. Awww, I think it’s wonderful that you have all those terrific memories. Your children are wonderful, even when they’re acting silly. :) I know you’re very proud of all of them.

  30. Aww these are precious photos! So great! :)

  31. Oh, I LOVE all these photos! I was cracking up looking at all the different Santas…a couple with young, dark eyebrows and some pretty funny expressions. What a marvelous tradition! Your kids are great, Charlie.

  32. I absolutely love this post Charlie! What great memories. And I love that you remember the day and stories from each photo opp. It’s amazing how fast kids grow in a year. Have a wonderful Christmas and here’s to more decades with Santa!

  33. Really fun pictures! What a great family history. But where are you and Carl? I think next year all 5 of you should be in the picture!

  34. awww i love this time line! how time has flown by and changed us :D xx

  35. Thank you, Charlie. This wasn’t just a great post but you allowed us to watch your children grow up, right before our eyes. You’ve a beautiful family, despite their best efforts to prove otherwise. :) I hope you all have a most wonderful Christmas.

  36. What a terrific family tradition…the photos are priceless. Thank you so much Charlie for sharing them with us.

  37. OMG, I had SO MUCH FUN reading this post, and I really admire you for being persistent to do this. Ever since my first kid was born, we take “monthly” family picture. We got busier and I almost forget but still doing it (sometimes I just take a pic a week later but that’s okay). I really love your caption and see how your beautiful children grow every year!

  38. I have been off-line for a couple of days and am I glad I didn’t miss this post, Charlie. I loved it! What a fantastic idea you had long ago, to continue the family tradition of visiting Santa each year. I haven’t known anyone else to chronicle Christmas with such diligence. And I also cannot believe how each of your children is so comfortable with Santa, at ease in front of a camera, and generally so agreeable to be part of the Santa tradition. My children freaked out so badly with Santa that we hardly did it past the age of about 4 or 5! This was delightful. And I do have to ask if you have ever written about Archie’s accident? I was quite taken with your statement that he spent 9 months in a wheel chair and that you could have lost him. I do seem to remember you mentioning something another time, but I don’t think I know what may have happened. If you have ever written about that before, I would like to read it. Bless him now! Your children are a delight, Charlie, and I always enjoy reading about them. I missed saying “Merry Christmas” but let me now wish you a very happy, healthy and accident-free! New Year! oxo

    • Hi Debra, thanks for all your lovely comments – I loved them all. No, I’ve never shared about the time we nearly lost Archie as it’s quite a lengthy story but as I had to take Archie to Accident & Emergency 17 times before his 17th birthday, there’s been other stories I have shared. I’ll get to Archie’s ‘other’ story one day xx

  39. LOVED THIS! And in some of those pics Arabella looks exactly like you. Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Happy New Year!

  40. Sorry i’m so late to comment, but I absolutely LOVE this series/progression of photos, Charlie!!! So fun to see the change in your children by the year :)

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