My Mary Jane’s clicked and clacked against the cold marble floor as we slowly moved forward. I stood in between my parents, holding my mother’s hand as my father held my bulky winter coat. My Mom reached down and adjusts the barrette holding my hair back from my eyes, and I fidget in the idle moments, distracted by the abundance of Christmas decorations, the festive melodies echoing off the high ceiling, and the other children all around me.
I can’t see what’s ahead of us, but I outstretch my free hand in hopes of grabbing the red velvet rope hanging just to my right. My mother’s grip is tight, and I can’t quite get my hands around the plush rope. My arm tires quickly and falls back to my side. I instead run my hands along the pink corduroy Oshkosh overalls I’m wearing and begin to fidget again .
Before I start getting really agitated, my father scoops me up, and I lay my head on his shoulder as he rocks slowly to the Christmas melodies that fill the air. It doesn’t take long for me to calm and close my eyes.
Somewhere between being awake and stepping into a dream, I feel that we are now moving forward, no longer to the beat of the music, but I don’t care. Still warm and comfortable, my eyes remain closed as we now seem to be ascending.
Suddenly, without warning, I’m pulled from the safety and comfort of my Father’s embrace and I feel an unfamiliar arm around my waist.
Oh, God! Where’s my Dad? Where’s my Mom?
I struggle to sit up and free myself.
I yell out, “Mama!”
I hear a deep, gruff man’s voice reply and I scream knowing it’s not my father.
There are a thousand other voices around me, no one more terrifying than that of the man who now has ahold of me.
Bravely, I turn to face my captor.
I take one look at his strange face, totally unshaven for months it seems, with his gruff voice, unsympathetic and sarcastic jolly laughter, and his breath smelling of cigarettes, whiskey, and defeat… I panic.
My young eyes search for my parents, but another stranger stands in front of me obstructing my view of the crowd behind him.
“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,” the music continues to echo off the dome shaped ceiling despite my cries for help.
Fight or flight kicks in and I choose flight.
I struggle harder against his grip this time.
I begin arching my back.
I kick my feet, swing my arms wildly and scream for my parents. It’s a cry for help that comes from the very fiber of my young being; a plea for help born from my young soul.
Then I hear a muffled familiar voice off in the distance.
It’s my father.
“Just take the picture…”
Wait? What the..?
Ho, ho, ho!
Have I mentioned my fear of Mall Santas before? As in, they scare the hell out of me to this day…well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure this one out.
Do you do this to your kids? Been a victim yourself? Feel free to share in the comments. You’re safe here. We’re in the tree of trust. No one, including Mall Santa, can hurt you here.