There's just something so special about Santa pictures. They capture the magic of childhood so perfectly and taking a photo with Santa each year is a great way to document how quickly kids grow!
Our tradition of visiting Santa started 12 years ago, before digital cameras were common. We took our preterm firstborn, who wasn't even supposed to be in the world yet, to visit Santa in his little house in the town where I grew up. I visited Santa there, so it was the perfect place to take my own child. A tradition was born that year, and every year since then, we have visited Santa in the same place!
Over the past twelve years our one child turned into four children. It astonishes me how quickly they grew up, especially since our oldest two are in on a secret now. I'm not going to sugar coat it. It makes me really sad. I feel that once they were in the know they lost some of their innocence. That being said, Dylan and Lexie are great sports and they are really making an effort to make Christmas extra special for Lily and Liam this year!
Here's a glimpse of our Santa visits over the past 12 years including our visit tonight! Santa doesn't change much! ;)
A tiny Dylan, brand new to this world, visited Santa weeks before his official due date! I remember the excitement I felt as a young new mom, as I waited in line with my precious newborn, my husband, and my best friend.
A few weeks later, he had a mini photoshoot with Santa. This was a time when there wasn't an abundance of professional photographers (or momtogs) and going to the studio for photoshoots was a popular concept!
Dylan, at age 1, was not a fan of Santa! It was the only year he cried. (The resemblance between Dylan and Liam is uncanny!)
We repeated the Santa photoshoot a few weeks later, and he did much better!
Two year old Dylan was just a few months away from becoming a big brother! He didn't cry that year, but he didn't have much to say.
This was the year that one kid turned into two! And 9 months old Lexie wanted NOTHING to do with Santa. This picture still makes me laugh. Lexie was losing her mind, Santa was so over it, and 3 year old Dylan kept rolling his eyes!
In 2008, Dylan was 4 and Lexie was 1. I could not find more than one picture from our Santa visit in that year. I know I have more, but I'm not sure where they are hiding. Probably on one of our many external hard drives! Dylan was a big fan of Santa that year, and talked his ear off!
I did, however, find pictures from when my dad was Santa at a German Christmas Market that Christmas!
It wasn't Lexie's first Christmas, but it was the first decent picture we have of Lexie with Santa!
Dylan and Lexie were 5 and 2 in 2009! Lexie finally warmed up to Santa that year.
A picture of them ended up in the Christmas Eve edition of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that year!
In 2010, Dylan was 6 and Lexie was 3. They didn't know it yet, but would soon find out that another sibling was on the way! (We announced it on our Christmas card!)
And then there were three! Dylan was 7, Lexie was 4, and Lily was 4 months old.
Happy Lily's first Christmas!
In 2012, Dylan was 8, Lexie was 5 and Lily was 1. Little did we know there was more to come...
Oops, we did it again! And then there were FOUR! Dylan was 9, Lexie was 6, Lily was 2 and Liam was 3 months old.
At 3 months old and 8 lbs, Liam was tiny for his first Christmas. And Santa immediately knew he was extra special!
This was the year that Dylan was in the know and it broke my heart! A little bit of the magic was lost that year and we had to figure out how to bring it back! (Dylan age 10, Lexie age 7, Lily age 3 and Liam age 1.)
My sweet crew grew up WAY too quickly for my liking! At ages 11, 8, 4 and 2, they were all excited about seeing Santa that year!
Tonight, we headed out for our yearly tradition of seeing Santa followed by visiting a light display. It's the same tradition we have followed every single year for twelve years. The kids were SO excited! Even though Dylan and Lexie know ALL about Christmas, they were still excited!
Unfortunately, the 18 degree weather made the wait in the line outdoors unbearable. Poor Liam, who hates the cold, was miserable by the time we made it to Santa's front door. (Proof that he does occasionally cry!)
Our visit was VERY short because there was a long line of people waiting to be seen. Dylan and Lexie played along and took turns telling Santa what they wanted for Christmas. It did make me sad that they are now too big to sit on Santa's lap. Where did my babies go?
Lily stepped up to talk to Santa, but was cut off by her baby brother. When Liam finally noticed Santa, he literally jumped out of Grant's arms, raced over to Santa and reached up to him. Santa wasted no time scooping him up!
There was a spot for Lily, too! She happily told Santa what she really wanted for Christmas while Liam studied him and played with his beard.
We couldn't even get him to tear his eyes away from Santa and look in our direction for a picture! Better luck next year!
Everybody started to head out the door of Santa's house, but Liam refused to leave. I'm certain he would have happily sat on Santa's lap all night!
We bundled back up and headed over to the local park to see the light display.
It was so cold that the male half of our family decided to sit in the car. The girls, however, loved looking at all the displays we have been visiting for 12 years!
Although it was freezing, it was worth it just to see their smiles! As a mother, I truly can't believe how quickly 12 years flew by and how quickly our family grew. I hope Dylan, Lexie, Lily and Liam always fondly remember our tradition of visiting Santa!