In 1984, barely 21 years old myself, I stood in the queue to have my 9 month old baby, Melissa, photographed with Santa at the local shopping centre.
Who knew it would become such a precious family tradition?
As years went by and two more babies came along, the little children gathered around Santa each year for a photo. As they did as bigger children. Teenagers. Young adults.
As they grew, each year I expected would be the last, especially as the *baby* Kieran got older and older. Then Melissa began fluttering her wings to leave the nest to go backpacking.
I issued a challenge: no matter where you are at Christmas, at home or away, your mother expects a photo of you with Santa. And so, the eldest left for New Zealand.
Two more Christmases passed. Still the two at home made the trek to see Santa and have their photo taken. Santa quaked in his boots as his tiny cave was filled with alarmingly large *children* plus parents and even boyfriends in tow! From New Zealand came photos of a young woman who melted the hearts of mothers in the queue when she explained she "had" to have the photo taken, for her mother back home in Australia.
And this year, with Melissa back in the nest, they eagerly await the annual pilgrimage to see Santa and squeeze into the photo for my album.
Here are my precious photos, filling an album I will gladly extend for more years to come ... until, one day, volume two will begin with the patter of little grand-feet.
Photos with Santa
UPDATE! Check out the 2007 photo