We went to the mall as usual, and Maya was so excited to see Santa, but could not go anywhere near him. Upon arrival to the area, we noticed that there was food everywhere and chocolate smeared on the ground, pillars and the walls. Apparently, the elves were doling out candy and chocolates to the kids while they were waiting in line to visit Santa. Normally, candy was given after the visit so that parents would escort the kids away and the chocolates were eaten elsewhere. This year, kids were hopped up on candy before they even got to Santa. I'm not entirely sure if Santa and his elves came up with that brilliant idea or if upper management at the North Pole issued a corporate wide policy change. In any case, what ensued was a disappointing experience.
What would normally be an exciting time for most families, especially kids, was an absolute nightmare for us and treacherous for Maya. Navigating the mall was like walking into a minefield. Everywhere I turned there was ice cream, chocolate bars, coffee, etc. even in sitting areas that were far away from the food court. I was trying to formulate a thought in my head - how to tell Maya that she cannot visit with Santa this year, because his suit is covered in milk chocolate residue, and his chair has little hand prints of candy stains. It is sad that a child should have to understand this sort of thing at an early age but there was just no way I could put a positive spin on this one. Honey, Santa is contaminated and we can't approach him without hazardous materials suits.
As I stood in front of Santa's house, held Maya's little hand and tried to absorb the magnitude of the danger I had just exposed my child to, I spotted an elf heading our way. But instead of talking to me, he simply smiled at Maya and pulled out a box of Smarties chocolates from the bag. Innocently, Maya put out her hand to grab the seemingly harmless gift and was startled by the loud "NO!" her father and I uttered in the same breath. The whole incident took less than a second. I was holding her hand, and using my other hand to keep kids away from her (with their chocolate covered faces and hands) as well as keep Maya from touching the walls that were also covered in smears of chocolates and coffee cups parked at the corners. In the same moment, my husband dove in to yank the chocolate out of her hand and remind her that she cannot have those because she is allergic to milk. I turned around to tell the elf that she is allergic and cannot have those. We proceeded to walk away when we noticed the elf behind us again and this time he pulled out a candy cane from the bag and gave it to Maya. Again, I took it out of her hand, as she cried, and I put it away and offered her a different kind of candy that is safe while her father tried to console her.
Santa, I know that this time of year you're probably busy getting stuck in chimneys and whatnot but I'm not at all impressed with the new policy, namely giving candy to kids before their visit. I don't want to be "shoulding" all over you but you "should" have considered at the very least, those who are allergic to nuts. And let's not even talk about the logistics of that decision and the repercussions. For example, isn't it a waste of financial resources to give all the kids candy without doing the necessary research first. There is insufficient evidence to prove that all those kids were nice. I'm certain that a small portion of them were naughty and deserved nothing but reindeer droppings (or coal). Not to mention, the lack of understanding we received from your elves (and other parents who rolled their eyes at me when I stated that Maya is allergic - those parents should be receiving droppings as well, perhaps even bear droppings). Even after I told the elf that she was allergic, he proceeded to give her something else that she could be allergic to. He just assumed that she is allergic to peanuts (and she is, but she's also deathly allergic to dairy and eggs) when he could have asked what her allergies are before giving her anything else.
I'm not asking for much, Santa, just for your staff to be a little bit understanding and for upper management to be a little more creative. Santa, why give food at all? Wouldn't a little toy trinket be safer and better for everyone involved? Or simply stickers, Santa; everyone loves stickers, even adults love stickers (when they don't have to peel them off the walls, floors, sinks, and other important areas).
Santa, I have been a loyal customer (and fan) of yours for the past 30 years and I feel that this latest incident has caused me to question your motives and the entire validity of Christmas. Before making any more policy changes, please take into account all your customers, not just a portion of them. My little girl is starting to doubt your existence (she's too young I know, but she's also quite clever - and your latest stunt did not help) and is not sure if you deserve a plate of cookies this year. Please pass my concerns onto the North Pole management team. Thank you for your cooperation and I look forward to seeing you soon with plenty of toys and no food.
Twilight Zone Central