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It was a tradition when I was a kid to visit Santa Claus at the mall every year. They always had such a cool set up at the Meadowood Mall in Reno, Nevada. I remember huge piles of cotton…I mean snow, piled up all around an elaborate toy workshop with the man himself seated in the middle. I always wanted to jump the little fence they has around it and go traipsing through the snow (thankfully, I never acted upon that urge as I’m sure mall security would have been all over me). It was the highlight of my holiday season.

Now that I have kids of my own, I am carrying on the tradition. Though, it’s a bit more complicated than when I was a kid. See in Reno (when I was little), there was really only one mall to see Santa, well one with a decent set-up anyway. In Charlotte, there are many and it has made me a bit of a Santa snob. There are two malls in particular with pretty cool set-ups. One is in the swanky South Park Mall where they have a ginormous Christmas tree and a huge red, green and gold throne for Santa. Of course, we get to have our picture taken on the throne and it makes for a very Christmas-y picture.

The second is at the Northlake Mall. Their set-up is much more elaborate. They set up a giant snow globe with some kind of theme that usually revolves around the popular children’s movie released during the holiday season. This year the theme is Ice Age: Continental Drift. The snow globe has all kinds of small attractions to distract anxious kids while they wait in a usually long line. They even have an ice princess visit and kids can have their picture taken with her as well.

My dilemma every year is which one do I choose to visit? The South Park Santa set-up isn’t nearly as exciting as the Northlake one. In fact, it’s kind of boring because all you see in the picture is Santa’s big red, green and gold chair. Plus, the Northlake one has a pretty picture of the Northern lights behind Santa’s chair as if it’s a window that looks out at the North Pole.

Seems like an easy choice right? The problem with the giant snow globe is that when you actually get inside the snow globe, there is snow falling from the center of the ceiling. White, thin little pieces of static-y plastic that sticks to every thing! And of course, it’s right before you make it to Santa! It’s actually pretty funny because you realize all too late that this dandriff-like substance is about to ruin your picture perfect children. Thus, parents end up glued to the sides of the snow globe holding their children back to avoid them from touching the stuff. I was one of those parents last year as I frantically tried to comb what I could out of Jax’s hair. Another mom, also realizing too late what was happening, attempted to hold her kid back from playing in it but failed.

Reminiscing about last year’s almost disaster makes South Park look better and better. I guess we’ll see on Saturday.

Last year’s picture with Santa