Our local mall allows people to bring their dogs on leashes to the mall for photos with Santa on a few Mondays leading up to Christmas. Sayid has gone most years – I think this was his fourth year to go. The first year he went, he met Santa and took the most adorable photo. In fact, here it is. He looks so small!
That was the only year he stopped to meet Santa. See, Sayid tends to act a fool when he sees other dogs. He is usually pretty friendly once he actually meets the other dogs, but he has no idea how to express himself properly, so he comes across as aggressive and scary. Plus, they stopped allowing people to take their own photos and I’m not looking to spend $20 (or more?!) on a photo. Luckily, I snapped this one when Sayid was a young puppy, and Santa looked right at me with a twinkle in his eye. No need for Sayid to visit Santa anymore. Now he just visits the mall.
This year, Mama and Daddy met Melissa, Sayid, & me. It’s so fun for us to walk Sayid through the mall and see all the reactions. More often than not, he gets a smile out of people. (A big happy dog in a Santa suit will have that effect.) Some people ask to pet him, and he’s happy to oblige. Some people get wide eyed. Some people spout profanities. One older man was full of questions about Sayid and said he had never petted a dog before who looked scary, so we assured him Sayid was friendly and would only lick him. He bravely reached down to pet him & smiled. One little boy who looked to be about two walked up and Sayid gave him a big lick on the face. A girl working at a small booth of Christmas decorations took pictures of Sayid and showed us photos of her own puppy while a lady working at an adjacent booth quickly ran over to love on Sayid and then hurried back to her work station. Then Sayid just wagged his tail, stared at her, danced in place, and whined. I think he wanted a little more attention from his new friend and couldn’t understand that she was at work!
Adding to our fun night, we went to the food court and Daddy was insistent on treating all of us to Chick-fil-a. Melissa stood off to the side with Sayid and Mama had already ordered, but I was with Daddy as he was getting ready to pay. The employee visited with us while fixing our drinks and getting Sayid a little bowl of water, and then he said, “Your total will be zero point zero zero.” Daddy and I laughed as Daddy tried to hand over his $20 bill. The employee said, “Y’all have a nice night!” Daddy and I were just looking at each other in confusion. The guy was just not going to take any money. So Daddy said, “Really?! Are you sure?!” The employee said, “Yep, I’m sure. It’s free!” Daddy said, “Why?!” The employee said, “It’s just something we do; we randomly choose people during the day and give them their orders for free. You were chosen. So enjoy!” Daddy and I were just shocked. And grateful! What a kindness.
Sometimes at the end of a work day, I just really don’t feel like doing anything but going home. But sometimes you get to walk your dog through the mall in a Santa suit with your family and receive the gift of delicious free nuggets & waffle fries. And that just makes for a great evening.