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You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Cry...

By December 2, 2008

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At the end of every Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, there's Santa waving to the crowds to usher in the holiday season. Where does he go after that? Why, straight to your local mall or department store where he poses with visitors. Many of them are small children screaming in terror. All for a photo-op that moms (and dads) capture on film (and now digital media) so they can keep that precious moment forever.

Probably the Santa photos in your family album look more like the one shown here (circa 1979), and less like a Norman Rockwell painting...and that's the whole point of the new book Scared of Santa:Scenes of Terror in Toyland.

It's a oddball compilation of hundreds of photos submitted by readers of the Chicago Tribune; some pictures date as far back as 1929, though most are considerably more recent. (As you might guess, the majority were sent in by women - moms, daughters, sisters, grandmothers.)

Collectively, they serve as a sort of holiday version of the funhouse mirror, reflecting our need to create 'happy' memories by strong-arming our kids into that scary visit with Santa. And it's put together by two Tribune editors, both moms who've been through the 'sitting on Santa's lap' drill with their own offspring. (They also take a stab at captioning each photo - here's the caption for the one shown.)

The book retails for $9.95 - a fairly inexpensive way to put a sure-fire smile on someone's face this holiday season...even if she/he did cry in that photo with Santa once upon a Christmas past.

The Arduini family in 1979
Photo courtesy of Harper Collins/Chicago Tribune

Read more: Book Review of Scared of Santa: Scenes of Terror in Toyland

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