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by Abigail Van Buren

Poorly Handled Santa Photos Turn Holidays to Humbug

DEAR ABBY: With the holiday season coming, I want to offer a word of advice to parents who are considering having Santa photos taken of their kids at the mall. I managed one of those concessions and saw the best and the worst of parenting. Forcing kids to get your memory photo of them screaming in terror is ridiculous, and I will add, NOT FUNNY. Parents should take the time to ask the children if they want to see Santa.

If necessary, the parent should be in the photo, too. Don't tell the kids to smile and show their teeth. They'll look like the grill on a Ford. Don't wait till the last days, visit Santa when it's really crowded, enter a long line and then complain that the line is long.

And don't assume it's safe or that the company cares. My boss told me I shouldn't have background checks done because it "cost too much." I ordered them anyway, and when the reports were returned, we had to have one of the Santas removed immediately from the floor. -- SANTA HELPER IN FLORIDA

DEAR SANTA HELPER: Thanks for sharing your insight. I'm all for wanting to capture the memory, and during holiday time, temptation can be hard to resist. But forcing a child who finds Santa terrifying to sit on his lap for a picture doesn't seem like great parenting to me. A better idea would be to wait until Christmas morning and take some candid shots of the child opening his or her presents at home. That way the smiles will be genuine and it will ensure a better outcome for everyone involved.

Read more in: Holidays & Celebrations | Family & Parenting