Gertrude has a complicated relationship with Santa. On one hand, she has an inherent fondness for any kind, old man who routinely brings her presents and tells her what a good girl she is. On the other hand, she's terrified of him.
When we told the kids that we were going to go visit Santa at the mall, Gert spent the entire afternoon and evening wavering between one extreme and the other.
Gert at 5:00 p.m.: "I'm going to bring this snowflake that I made in school to show Santa! It's the best snowflake I ever made. Santa will love it. I want to sit on Santa's lap and show it to him!"
Gert at 5:03 p.m.: "I DON'T WANT TO SIT ON SANTA'S LAP!"
Gert at 5:05 p.m.: "I love Santa. Can I tell Santa I love him?"
Luckily, by the time we were actually standing in line, Gert had swung over to the pro-Santa camp and was eagerly bouncing on her tiptoes with her prized paper snowflake clutched in both hands.
Santa motioned to Matilda and Gert, and I saw Gert hold up the snowflake and tell him all about it.
"That's beautiful!" said Santa, taking and admiring the snowflake with his white-gloved hands. "Is this for me?"
Gert smiled and nodded and watched Santa tuck the snowflake next to him into the cushion of his oversized Santa-couch.
Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap! This was going to end badly.
But Gert was all smiles as she told Santa what she wanted and how helpful she was to mother and how nice she was to her sister, etc. She hopped off his lap and trotted back to Gary and me without so much as a backward glance.
If you look closely here, behind the superimposed snowman's head, you'll see a folded piece of purple construction paper. There, the snowflake remained with Santa, and we cheerfully headed for home.
I still had a nagging sense that we hadn't heard the last of the snowflake. Sure enough, as I was helping Gert get into her jammies that night, her lower lip started to quiver.
"My snowflake...!" she whimpered. "I didn't mean to give it to Santa! I couldn't tell what he was saying because he has that old beard on his face."
And that, according to Gert, is the story of how a sneaky, bearded old poser tricked her out of her most-perfect snowflake that she ever made, and how Mommy promised her extra toys on Christmas morning (although it's unclear how Mommy is qualified to make that promise).