Monday, December 07, 2009

A Different Kind of Santa Letter....

My letter to the General Manager at The Village at Allen about a new policy regarding pictures with the Big Guy (AKA Santa Claus)

December 7, 2009

General Manager

The Village at Allen

190 E Stacy Rd Ste. 1308

Allen, TX 75002

Dear Ms. GM,

I am the parent of three young children who anxiously look forward to seeing Santa Claus every year. Samantha, 10 has special needs. Savannah is eight and my son, Smith, is five. They still believe in and treasure Santa Claus, as do I. For nine of Sam’s 11 Christmases we have had their pictures taken with the Big Guy.

Until last year, we visited the Big Guy at Stonebriar Centre in Frisco. When word got out that the Big Guy had moved I scoured the internet until I found him at The Village at Allen. My kids loved going to see the Big Guy last year. The reindeer and children’s village were a huge hit with them. I liked going to The Village at Allen for the shopping. We all looked forward to going back this year.

We arrived an hour before the doors opened to be first in line as Sam cannot tolerate the anxiety of waiting her turn once she sees Santa. My children played with their Grandmother while I waited on queue. As a line quickly formed I thought surely they would open the doors soon. It was very cold and as one might expect in a line to see Santa, there were lots of children and babies waiting in the cold. I was informed the doors opened at 11AM. This policy should be revisited immediately.

We finally got in the door a little before 11AM. As my children were walking up to see Santa, I went to take a candid picture and was quickly informed that no outside pictures were allowed. I was also informed this was a ‘Mall Decision.’ This is the first time in nine years with the Big Guy I could not take my own pictures. I have ALWAYS purchased a photo package as well as taken candid shots of my children talking to Santa Claus. And while the posed, purchased pictures of my children with Santa are my dearest Christmas treasure, I especially cherish capturing the rapport my children have with the Big Guy while telling him their deepest wishes and hearts’ desires.

One year, when Sam was about four, she started to walk away from Santa when she was done. She paused, turned around and looked at Santa. I asked her if she wanted to hug Santa. Before she could even nod her head, the Big Guy opened his arms and Sam ran into them. If I had not taken my own candid shots, I would not have a tangible memento of this gloriously magical moment in my child’s life.

This will likely be the last year two of my children believe in Santa and I feel your business decision has stolen something from us. The awe-inspiring exchange between children and Santa may never happen again for them. And you robbed us of an opportunity to capture it on film with your selfish financial decision to squeeze a few more dollars out of an already strapped public.

I know the Big Guy is big business for you and I can not fault you for wanting to maintain or even increase your revenue. That is your job and I get it. But Christmas is not only about the bottom line. It is also about CHARITY, peace on earth and loving your fellow man. You demonstrate none of these holiday tenets. I am certain there are some families that cannot afford to purchase the picture packages; especially in these tough economic times. On behalf of all parents you are denying the opportunity to film or photograph their children’s experience with the Big Guy, I say shame on you!

I will take my children wherever the Big Guy is next year. I will take them to see him as long as they will allow me to and as long as I can find him. If he is back at The Village at Allen next year, I will go there and I will purchase my photo package. But I will not spend a single penny with The Village at Allen merchants the other 364 days of the year.




Reg said...

Very well worded letter and I love the photos. How the heck are you? Merry Christmas to you and the family!

t_cole said...

HI REG! Long time no talk. I am great. Ready for the holidays - almost.
Merry Christmas back to you!

Anonymous said...

For many years, I have worked for a photo company that does mall photo sets such as these.

Unfortunately, most moms aren't as understanding as you when it comes to always purchasing a package. The 'no personal camera policy' at those places is usually to deter parents from coming to the set saying they just want to visit Santa and not buy a photo package (which is always allowed and always should be), but then they take out their camera and snap their own pictures. In most cases, if you nicely ask them, and say you are definitely purchasing a package, they can't really stop you. If that didn't happen in this case, I am sorry...maybe the Big Guy will be at another mall next year!

Three Score and Ten or more said...

I once did Santa in a Mall using a puppet Santa. They had a live one with pictures and me. My lines were just as long, but i worked harder for my money.

Your children are adorable.

Catizhere said...

T-Cole!!! I'm sorry I haven't been around much. I missed you!
Look how pretty yours girls are. I'm so very jealous of Smith's hair.

We're going to Storybookland tonight to see Santa. This place is really neat. If it's cold enough (it will be tonight, 26 degrees...brrrr) they have sprinkler thingies in the trees above Santa's workshop so that it SNOWS!!! while you're waiting in line.