This year, we had several opportunities for Brady to visit with Santa. Usually we go once and are done, but it just so happened that we were in several places where Santa was available for pictures. It's also so much fun because Brady understands the concept of Santa this year. He started by calling him Ho Ho, and now calls him Santa. He knows that Santa watches him and brings him presents if he's a good boy. Most kids his age are terrified of Santa, but he's never had problems with Santa, the Easter Bunny, or other characters we've encountered in the past, so I figured this year wouldn't be any different. It's also fun, because Santa will talk back to you, whereas characters won't. We practiced at home what he would ask Santa to bring him for Christmas. Usually, the response was either cars or trucks (go figure).
The first chance to have a meeting with Santa, was when we drove a little over an hour north to Bronner's, the World's Largest Christmas store, located in Frankenmuth, Michigan. We'd been there once when we lived here two years ago, but it wasn't Christmas time, so Santa wasn't available. We went last Tuesday with Bethany and her kids. Brady was overly thrilled to have the kids ride in his van with him. We purposely arrived as close to opening time as possible because we figured it would be more crowded during December than other month's we've visited. As luck would have it, we got there right around the time Santa was seeing kids, so we didn't even have to wait. What was cool about their system is that they put name tags on the kids, so Santa knows their names when they walk up. I had a hard time holding Brady back while the one or two kids in front of us visited with Santa. He was just so excited.
Running right up to Santa.
He was so happy ;) Brady was not shy at all and started talking about cars and trucks he would like for Christmas.
Santa told Brady that he loves giving presents and that hardly anyone gives him gifts. He said what he'd like the most is a big hug, so you can see Brady giving him a big hug.
We had gone with Ainsley the first year we visited with Santa in 2010. She was only two and a half and Sam wasn't even born yet. She did much better this year and even smiled for me to take a picture. She was still a little too shy to talk to him very much though.
Poor Sam had the typical toddler reaction and Bethany stepped out of the frame just long enough for me to snap a quick pic of both kids on Santa.
Our second opportunity to visit with Santa came this past Saturday, when we rode the Polar Express (separate post to come later). The train took us to the North Pole where there were lots of fun rides and of course, Santa. We were one of the first cars unloaded at the North Pole, so we were the first ones to see Santa.
Brady chatting with Mrs. Claus.
He was again very happy to see Santa and told him everything he wanted. He even said, "Merry Christmas" when it was time to say goodbye.
The last time we lived in Michigan also happened to be Brady's first Christmas and first time visiting Santa. I was overly impressed with the Somerset Collection (a high end mall that spans two sides of the highway), where you walked up to the desk and got an appointment time with Santa instead of waiting in a huge line. That way you can shop and come back when it's your turn. Santa's also in a huge castle, so you can't even crowd around and see him.
We had quite the ordeal trying to see this Santa, however. I had planned to last Friday with Bethany and her kids after Brady's gymnastics class. I had babysat Sam the day before and he was acting a bit off, so Bethany guessed that he might be getting sick. It turns out he did end up getting sick, so she told me to go without her. Andy had taken a half day off of work and planned to meet us there. It took over an hour to get there and when I got there (around 12:45pm), the appointment times were already at 3:30pm. I called Andy, telling him there was no way Brady would make it that long and we'd just come back another day.
We decided to go this morning right when the mall opened so there wouldn't be a long wait until the next available appointment. I left the house an hour before the mall was set to open (it's about a 35 min drive from the house), and of course, there were a total of four accidents that we hit, making traffic a stand still. We ended up getting there 25 minutes after the mall opened, but thankfully, we only had to wait a few minutes for our appointment. Lesson learned for future years : go early.
A shot of the castle where Santa resides from the third level. He sits on the first level.
Another thing I really like about the Somerset Collection and how they run Santa, is that you can pay only $25 and get a CD with 6 different poses on it, where you have the rights to every one to print as you please. I've paid $20 at some places for the CD with just one pose, so this is a great bargain.
Busy talking with Santa.
Lately, I've started dabbling in collages, so I decided to do one of all three years of Santa pics. The first and third were both at the Somerset Collection, so it's cool to see they change the backdrop every year. If you click on it, you can make it bigger.