Kids pose with Santa for 23 years straight

December 24, 2008 1:00:32 PM PST
For Merry Swan, it wouldn't be Christmas without a photo of her two daughters on Santa's lap. And while that tradition typically ends for most families by the time kids stop believing in Santa, that's not been the case for Swan's daughters.

For more than 20 years, Swan's two daughters -- now 23 and 18 years old -- have been dragged by their mother to their local Baton Rouge, La., mall to get their mugs snapped alongside Saint Nick.

"They're not too happy with me," Swan told ABCNews.com of her two daughters, Ashley and Katie, who took this year's photo on Monday.

"But just like anybody else when my first child was born, I wanted her picture taken with Santa," said Swan, "and then I just started doing it every year."

"It's just a tradition," she said. "The girls gripe about it, but that's the only thing I ask."

Swan says that every Dec. 1 she takes out the past Santa photos and displays them in her den.

"I have them all displayed -- all 23 years," said Swan. "This year's picture is actually in my living room where my big tree is."

The Swan daughters used to love getting their pictures taken with Santa. Their mom remembers that when they were little they looked forward to climbing on Santa's lap and whispering in his ear.

But today, the girls' feelings have changed.

"I feel like we're a little bit too old to be taking these pictures," said Katie Swan, who is an 18-year-old high school senior.

"People think my sister and I are just friends and we're joking around by taking a picture with Santa," said Katie. "But then when we tell people the truth they laugh at us."

The toughest part about the photos, said Katie, is waiting in line with children, many of whom are still in diapers.

"It's embarrassing to wait in line with all those little kids," she said.

Swan said that she agrees to go to the less-popular mall to take the photos to minimize the embarrassment to her daughters.

"We don't go to the new mall because they don't want their friends to see them," said Swan. "But it's funny because their friends will call me and ask when we're going and egg it on."

When asked why she and her sister don't opt out of taking the photos, Katie said their mother was relentless.

"We try every year to get out of it," said Katie. "But our mom says if we don't take the photo we won't get our Christmas presents, so we take it."

Katie admitted that later in life, she might appreciate the memories the photos preserve but said she's not at that point yet.

And as for how much longer Swan plans on forcing her daughters onto Santa's lap?

"Until one of them gets married," said Swan.

"I think that the first one who gets married I want the husband in that one picture, and then they can stop and the one who isn't married has to continue."

More coverage for the holidays from 6abc.com


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