This may be several weeks late, but it is something I just have to get off my chest.
Christmas is supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year. When you have a child it makes it that much happier and that much more special. My son is about to be two, so this past Christmas was his second Christmas and I was beyond thrilled to see his reaction to all things Christmas. Last year he was still too small to realize what everything really was and this year he loved all of the lights and of course the presents!
Like I mentioned in my last post, I had to wait to take Michael to see Santa until he got over his spell of pneumonia. I also have to plan everything out with him because for those of you who do not know I have 50/50 custody with his dad so we work together on creating weekly schedules and Holiday schedules that are fair to both of us, and most importantly fair to little Michael. I had planned to take Michael to see Santa at the beginning of December, but the many adventures of life change plans sometimes.
Considering Michael is a year older than he was for his first Christmas, and his first trip to see Santa, I was super stoked to see his reaction this year. I was not quite sure what I was going to get: scared, screaming, crying toddler OR happy and excited about this jolly old man dressed like Santa. I decided on which mall we would be visiting and made reservations for The Ultimate Santa Experience. It was different than any Santa I had visited as a kid, and way different than the one I took Michael to see last year.
Our reservation was for Christmas Eve, so that morning Paul and I got Michael ready and started on our 30 minute trip to visit Santa. We arrived at the mall and made it inside with ten minutes to spare for our reservation. We waited about 30 minutes before we got in line to enter Santa’s house. When we finally made it in the first room of the house we got to attend “flight school” where Michael got to learn to fly the sleigh, with a lot of help from the adults of course. The setup was super cool and there were two other families going through each room with us.
After we all completed flight school we moved on to the “sleigh ride” where there were three rows on a life size sleigh in a movie theater like setting. Paul, Michael and I sat in the middle row and the other two families were in the rows surrounding us. The flight simulator started and it actually felt like we were riding on Santa’s sleigh! All of a sudden, about what I would consider half way through the sleigh ride, families that were in the room next to us attending flight school came running the the room where we were on the sleigh ride and things took a turn for the absolute worse.
As a parent, the very last thing you would ever expect to happen when you are merely bringing your toddler to visit Santa at the mall on Christmas Eve is to hear the words: gun shots, shooting, lockdown. I have never in my life been as terrified as I was that very moment. My heart stopped. I held my son so tight to me, not knowing what was going on. One minute we are all enjoying our Ultimate Santa Experience, the next there is a shooter in the mall. As one of the dads rushed to block us in the Santa house, and I sat there holding my son tight and having Paul tell me everything was going to be ok, I had so many thoughts going through my head and the biggest one was why.
Why would someone decide to come into a mall, a mall that doesn’t allow guns mind you, with a gun on Christmas Eve? Why would someone open fire in a mall on Christmas Eve? Why was this person not thinking about all of the innocent bystanders? Why, why, why…?
When we were finally ushered out of the Santa house after police had placed the mall on lockdown and had the situation under control, we basically sprinted to our car. I remember looking around while we were leaving and seeing Starbucks cups people had clearly dropped when they heard the gunshots and as we were going through the food court it looked like a war zone, honestly. These are images I will never get out of my head. This is an experience I will never forget. I am incredibly thankful the situation didn’t turn out worse than it was. I hate that someone had to lose their life, on Christmas Eve to say the least, but I am also very thankful no innocent bystanders were hurt from stray bullets.
As a mother, and after gathering my thoughts on the whole situation, all I can say is I am thankful my son is ok. I am thankful Paul and I are ok. It could have been anyone rushing through the door of the sleigh ride we were on, and I am so very thankful it was just the innocent families that actually heard the gunshots because we didn’t hear them.
While I didn’t get a picture of my son on Santa’s lap or get to experience his reaction to Santa this year I won’t lose sleep over it. There’s always next year for Santa pictures. I am just happy I got to spend Christmas with my family and for all of the good laughs to get us past the whole mall situation.