“Mommy, Daddy, look! It’s Santa! Can I tell him what I want for Christmas?”

Then IT happens.

Your child gets on Santa’s lap and she screams bloody murder. And rightfully so. After all, you spend January through November telling her not to talk to strangers, yet here you are, telling her that not only is it “ok” to sit on his lap, but to also be sure to take candy from him.

I guess it would be worse if your kids had to watch all the other kids do it and they weren’t allowed to participate. Oh, wait… We call those kids Jewish. Did you ever see the episode of “Friends” where Ross dressed up like the Hannukah armadillo because his son was half Jewish, yet was all into Santa? Well, it was very funny. I miss my “Friends.”

Speaking of friends, I’m here to give you, my friends, a little advice on how to avoid the “Screaming child on Santa’s lap” episode. Having done many parties as the white-bearded one in my day, I can honestly say that we don’t like having a screaming child on our laps. Screaming children sometimes feel the need to hit, grab or worse: relieve themselves. The human fight or flight response is a cruel joke to Santas everywhere.

So here’s a quick tutorial:
One: Test the waters. What do you do before you go into a pool? You cautiously put a toe into the water to see if it’s to your liking. Think of visiting Santa the same way. From a safe distance, see if your child is curious about Santa. If he seems to be then…

Two: Move closer to Santa – and it’s better if you don’t acknowledge him unless the child acknowledges him first. Now the best thing is if the Santa knows well enough to also follow a scared child’s lead. If the child says nothing, Santa should also say nothing. I’ve seen many a Santa scare a nervous child from a distance just by saying, “Hello.”

Getting close to Santa is one thing, sitting on his lap is a whole different ball game. Batter up!

Three: With your child in hand, stand next to Santa.  Good? Then…

Four: Kneel down next to Santa. Kid still not screaming? Moving on…

BONUS TIP – One parent should ALWAYS be at the ready to snap the photo that will line the refrigerators of Friends and Family for months. When I say at the ready, I mean that you have the camera framed up and finger on the button. As photo taker you must also be ready to trade places with the other parent. Kids are unpredictably predictable and they may have a moment where it’s imperative that the other parent take them to see Santa.

Five: Slowly – and I can’t stress this enough – slowly try placing your child on Santa’s lap and walk around in front of Santa (be sure to not be in the way of the parent taking the photo). Hopefully your child will watch the parent who set them down and you’ll have a nanosecond where the child is on Santa’s lap, looking ahead for photos, and most importantly, not screaming. Your child may seem ok, but remember, at any moment he could blow. So the parent manning the camera should be snapping away. With digital, it’s totally worth it to take a bunch of photos. You can always trash the bad ones.

There you have it. Easy.

One last thing: children change from year to year, so one year they may looooooove Santa and the next they don’t want to be in the same room with him. Saying stuff like, “Well you liked him last year” doesn’t help the situation and it’s just plain mean. Don’t be a bad Mommy or Daddy and be sure to follow your child’s cues.

If you’re the type of parent that enjoys photos of your kids screaming on Santa’s lap, then disregard everything that I said and make sure to pinch them before you hand them over to the bearded stranger in red with candy to insure that you get that cruel photo that your child will always hate you for when they are older.

I would love to hear your Santa stories. And see pictures, feel free to post them here or on my Fan Page on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hollywood-Clown/

Happy Holidays from The Hollywood Clown!

“What’s your name?”

“My name’s Kimberly, Santa.”

“That’s a beautiful name Kimberly. How old are you?”

“I’m eight.”

“If you just ate then you’re not hungry.”

Kimberly laughed, “NO! I’m eight years old.”

“Sorry about that, Santa must have snow in his ears. Do you know what you want for Christmas, Kimberly?”

“I want my dad to stop smoking. If he dies, I won’t feel bad ‘cause I’ve asked him a thousand times to stop and he won’t. He must love smoking more than he loves me.”

Yeah… What do you say to that? I was not expecting that at all. A hush had fallen over the room. I could see all the adults’ faces frozen in shock. I’m sure my face was also frozen in a state of shock, but it couldn’t be seen because it was covered in a fake beard and sweat. I composed myself and did what every adult in that room wanted to do. Change the subject.

“Do you like Furby’s, Kimberly?”


“That’s good. I do, too. Maybe you’ll get one for Christmas this year since you’ve been so good. I think I have a gift here for you.” I quickly grabbed the gift for Kimberly from the adolescent helper assigned to me by our hostess. “Merry Christmas, Kimberly. Ok, who’s next? Is there anyone else left?”

Now I know what you’re thinking: Why a Christmas story in the middle of September?
Well, Kimberly’s words have been reverberating in my brain and in my thoughts frequently as of late. My mother is a smoker and last week it finally caught up with her. She had a heart attack.

Am I sad?


Am I shocked?


I’ve always told my wife that I knew that this day would come. I was never sure who it was going to “attack” first, my Mom or my Dad. You’re never really ready for it, even when you know that it’s inevitable. No one ever wants to be reminded that his mother is mortal and will not be around forever.

Every time I tried to sit and write for my blog (or write anything for that matter) my thoughts always go back to my mother. Finally, after many hours suffering staring at a blank page my wife said, “Just write about what’s on your mind.” So I am.

It has been many years since I heard Kimberly’s sad insight, but I can hear her voice as clear as if she just spoke to me. She was so brutally honest. I, too, had begged my parents to stop smoking when I was younger. Now that I’m older I have a better understanding of why it’s so hard to give it up. But I know that it is possible to quit. My mom’s mom, who everyone referred to as Nana, used to smoke. I once asked her how she was able to stop.

“I had a heart attack. The doctor said that if I didn’t quit I would have another one and eventually die. I came home, threw away all my smokes and have never touched one since. It was easy.”

My Nana was a very “tell it like it is” gal. She had her heart attack when she was around 70 years old and lived to be 90. She had 20 extra years with us, and I know that we all benefited and are thankful for her strength. My mom is a virtual carbon copy of her mom. I pray that she continues to be, and follows the lead laid down by her mother.

I’ve had a lot of friends offer up personal stories of hope of someone close to them having to go cold turkey and succeeding. “My dad quit 10 years ago and we just celebrated his 70th birthday.”

I’ve also had friends tell me stories with a not-so-happy ending. “Your mom got really lucky and has been given a second chance. My dad had one; it was his first and last.”

My mom works in a hospital and I believe that is what saved her life. My parents live so far out in the “boonies” that you have to drive 20 minutes before you reach the “Middle of Nowhere” just south of “Where the Hell Are We?” If she had been home when it happened who knows how things would’ve played out. The hospital that she works at is so small that she had to be airlifted via helicopter to Dartmouth Medical Center in Hanover New Hampshire. I thought that was pretty cool. Mom, not so much. I guess a helicopter ride is different just after you’ve had a heart attack and are in need of emergency angioplasty?

I thought long and hard about going back to visit her. Money’s tight, my wife’s seven months pregnant and there is a lot of work to be done (and on the cheap, to boot). Hell, when I asked my Mom about visiting she said, “Why? I’m fine.”

But, as my wife put it, “Are you going to remember our credit card bill or that you spent time with your mom?”

My plane ticket is booked and my writer’s block has been lifted. To my readers, thanks for being patient in these, my emotionally trying, times. I love New Hampshire in the fall.

I AM The Hollywood Clown… Now go hug a mom and tell her how much you love her!