I think it is safe to share this story now.
There are two malls closer to me than my favorite one. Sometimes I go to the Nice Mall all alone just to eat lunch at Nordstrom Café and get an accessory for under $15 at Charming Charlie’s. On this Friday before Christmas, I had $20 cash to spend and wanted to soak in the Christmas decorations. This was my kind of Dave Ramsey cash challenge.
I parked, grabbed a peach ginger sweet tea To Go from the café, and made my way around the ornately decorated shopping center. I found clearance gift items in Charming Charlie’s, delicious samples in Williams Sonoma and a sip of coffee in Harry & David. I decided to walk all around the mall and enjoy the lights and sounds and sights of other shoppers. I stayed on the upper level and enjoyed occasionally looking over the rail at the many families pushing strollers making their way towards Santa. With nostalgia, I remembered the many years I carried my four wee ones all dressed in coordinating fashion to get their pictures taken too.
When I got to center court, I gazed down at the multitude snaking around the endless line leading into and out of the snow globe on the way to the Big Guy’s chair. I roamed around estimating how many families were in line and feeling blessed for an instant that this was a line I could currently avoid. As families and children exited the snow globe, dusted in charming snowflakes just in time to pose with St. Nick, I began trying to anticipate which kids would enjoy the moment and which would vigorously resist. I was particularly charmed by a sweet preschool-aged girl with a dozen little beaded braids. She was clinging tightly to her Mama’s legs and I prepared for a loud showdown. To my surprise and delight, she climbed up into Santa’s lap and hugged him tight, cheek to cheek and grinned a huge cheese for the photographer, holding it like a pro. I was so enchanted I whipped out my phone from up above, zoomed way in, and captured the moment myself.
Then I looked at the next few families in line. A few groups back, there was a set of infant twins in matching Christmas dresses. I predicted that at least one of them would protest. As their turn finally arrived and they got positioned on Santa’s lap, studying his face, I once again rose my phone to snap the shot. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the security guard walk over to the 5 adults in the party waiting for the twins to get their photo.
Uh oh…I thought. Something is about to go down. As I gawked, they all looked up at me together. One of them looked at the mall cop, shaking their head as if to say, “No. She’s not with us.” At that moment the Mall Cop hollered and pointed directly at me. “Ma’am. NO.” I quick nodded, put my camera away and hastily retraced my steps back to the parking garage.
I admit for a moment, I expected to see a swarm of cops jogging and communicating into their shoulder walkie-talkies, describing me to each other.
“White female in floral jacket. Not much over 5 feet. Could stand to lose a few pounds. We shouldn’t have any trouble catching her.”
Then, even though I know we don’t use film in our cameras any more, I had the vision of them pulling the phone apart and ripping out the ribbon like it was 1963.
With the adrenaline pumping and the wits of Jack Reacher, I successfully eluded the imagined army of mall cops & the families I had stalked, kept my camera phone in tact, and did not have to be bailed out of mall photo jail.
I did however get coal in my stocking.
…and some really cute photos.