December 25, 2009 in City

Scary Christmas

For this youngster, fear of Santa Claus is apparently all in the family
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

Eighteen-month-old Jack Hughes is rescued from Santa’s lap at River Park Square on Thursday by his father Liam Hughes. Jack’s mother, Elizabeth, admits to being afraid of Santa and crying when she was a child.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Reader photo gallery

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The annual outing to get the kid’s picture on Santa’s lap is just a crying shame for some parents.

For Paul and Kathy Marshall, it started when their only child, Elizabeth, was 3 months old.

“She had this stern look on her face,” Kathy said. But the next year was worse, much worse. The tears just flowed.

“We never got a picture until she was 10,” Kathy said, “because she would make such a scene.”

So this Christmas Eve, Paul and Kathy found themselves waiting in line once again with trepidation to see Santa Claus at River Park Square, where Elizabeth, now 29, and her husband, Liam Hughes, brought their own two boys for the seasonal rite of passage.

Would the family capture that precious moment of yuletide bliss, or would the photo end up, like so many others – a red-faced, squinty-eyed, moist-cheeked disaster? The Hughes family, who live in Sumner, Wash., had reason to doubt.

Elliot, who is 4, had cried his first two times with Santa, though he appeared fairly confident this time around. However, the odds were pretty good that his 18-month-old brother Jack wouldn’t make it through dry-eyed.

As their place in line inched closer, Paul, a counselor at University High School, and Kathy, a speech therapist for the Spokane Public Schools, discussed their lachrymal family history while Elizabeth waited nervously for the moment of truth.

When the tears came, they came in buckets. Elliot apparently had outgrown his aversion to mall Santas, but Jack was inconsolable – another generation had given in to the darker side of Christmas.


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