Sunday turned out to be a pleasant surprise; at first, it had the makings of a world class dud. The family had overslept and, in a effort to be frugal in the face of holiday shopping to come, none of us were that jazzed about the rubbery Eggos on our plate (even in light of the Eggo shortage). After breakfast, we dressed a little better than usual, loaded up the camera and piled in the car with a plan to stop by "The Winter Festival" at Coconut Creek's Promenade (corner of Lyons and Wiles). South Florida Parenting Magazine was supposed to have a big presence there, with white tents housing a zillion activities for kids. That may have been the case, but we'll never know because we forfeited the mission. Enough SUV's showed up to this event to circle the earth. Twice! It was amazing! As we watched the "first comes, first serves," take the last parking spaces, we made the decision to do a three point turn on the nosebleed section of the last 4 tiered garage and try our luck elsewhere.
"How 'bout the Indian festival in Coral Springs?", my husband suggested. I'd given him the passenger seat for the day, so he had less of a say in what direction my Ford got pointed.
"I wanted a family picture for the Christmas cards," I insisted, aware that I might be whining. I also wanted our children to see Santa; it was a rite of passage for every kid and, though I dreaded the inevitability of a long line, I was more than willing to wait. Suddenly I had an idea...maybe, just maybe, I could cross both items off my to-do list with minimal suffering. I wondered if the sudden light bulb that appeared over my head was blinding everyone in the vehicle.
"I have a great idea! Let's go to the slowest, sleepiest mall we can think of and see Santa Claus there!"
Now, I mean no offense to the Coral Square Mall; in fact, I like it so much that I worry about nobody ever being in it. They've got huge family restrooms, enclosed play area with cushioned seats for parents, a small locomotive your child can ride in for a long time at 2 bucks a pop, and plenty of coin operated
planes, cars and spaceships...but it's still nowhere near as populated as other malls in Broward, and yesterday was no exception. We eased into the perfect parking space immediately.
As soon as we walked into the mall, a big sign alerted us to Santa's 11am to 3pm December-long presence outside of Sears. Less than 10 people stood in line, so my kids were on Santa's lap in two flicks of a reindeer's tale, telling him they wanted ponies and robots for Christmas. The experience wasn't completely painless, because I did end up parting with money. I bought a modestly priced "photo-op with Santa" package, which gave my husband the green light to snap as many personal pictures as he liked. I'm still quite pleased with my 6 glossy photos, purchased for $25, and my kids had a chance to tell Chris Cringle that they've been extra good this year.
My purpose in writing this article? Score your own holiday coup and avoid the "Santa line" crowds by giving your business to a nice little mall devoid of outlets; their Santas are far jollier - this Santa was extremely nice, and didn't seem to need a cigarette break outside of Nordstrom Rack. The beard looked real...could he have been the real thing?