This past holiday season, we contemplated the age-old question of Santa Claus, whether he is truly jolly ol' Saint Nick or the epitome of scary fright nestled snugly in a red felt suit with white furry plush edging.
To help you come to your own decision, we present you with Exhibit A, a photo of happy, smiling Helios, eyes sparkling during a recent visit with the gloved wonder (no, not Michael Jackson, which would decide the scary v. splendid question easily enough). Santa would make light conversation with Helios, inquiring as to his behavior, whether he was good to his little brother, and other such appropriately paternal inquiries. In every visit with Santa or one of his helpers, Helios asked for the same thing: "a big present, a really, really big present. I want a big wrapped box for me to unwrap." Several people tried to pry into Helios' Christmas request, inquiring what should be inside that Christmas-wrapped box. Every time, Helios said, "nothing. I want a really big box to unwrap and Santa needs to bring it. He needs to, Mommy!" Every night, along with a prayer for his family and friends, sandwiched between "Good night, God" and "Good night, Jesus" was "Good night, Santa Claus. Don't fall out of your sleigh!" Clearly, Santa Claus is held in very high esteem. Love and concern for Santa emanated profusely from every pore on Helios' 3-year-old body.
Now, please consider if you will, Exhibit B. This is Hesperos, screaming in bloody terror during a preschool visit by Santa. This was not a single occasion. Every time Hesperos was approached by the hairy elderly guy who liked to have children sit on his lap (hmm...), his reaction was the same. Whether Santa came bearing candy canes, toys, coloring books, or just a jolly laugh, Hesperos recoiled in fear from the plentiful beard, suddenly wanting to cuddle with anyone in the continental United States who could take him far, far away. Since Hesperos still wears diapers, it's unlikely, but in the picture at right, the shading on his pants looks like Hesperos lost his bladder control during this visit to Santa.
Santa: scary or splendid? Include this among the important decisions you must make in 2008.