To the Lady at Target Who Told my Kid to ‘Watch Out Because Santa is Watching’

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My youngest and I were slowly meandering the aisle of Target this week. It had been a great morning – just the two of us. My oldest was at school and we were enjoying a rare mommy and me bonding opportunity. Our final activity of the morning was to swing by Target and grab “a few things”, or more accurately $150 worth of unnecessary items and $11.25 worth of stuff we actually needed.

As we slowly wound our way between the Magnolia Collection holiday pillows and the 18,000 options for inspirational thermoses, the two of us began to play a mimicking game, which I was using to distract my son from his requisite 10,000 asks for a Hot Wheels car. Sorry about all the hyperbole here folks, I think I’ve forgotten how to drive home a point without grossly over-exaggerating like 10,000 times…

During the course of our game, I admittedly got a little over-zealous with my mimicry and my son grabbed my cheeks and squeezed them together chubby-hubby style. He may have been about 2% frustrated with our Pete and Re-Pete routine, but mostly he was being silly and playing with his mom.

That’s when a lovely woman, assumedly in her mid-fifties strolled by with her cart and sweetly sang those famous words, “You’d better be good. Santa’s watching!”


Okay, what’s my play here. My son is looking at me like I’m supposed to substantiate this claim. With all the confusion and raised eyebrows of a kid who is thinking, ‘Is this lady for real Mom? Santa’s not really watching my every move is he? But wait, didn’t you just make a huge fuss in the parking lot, pointing out Santa to me? Or was that just some fat guy with a beard, driving a red Buick? What’s going on here…”

Now here’s where I should probably share that we are a Santa family. I love Santa. I think he’s the jam. But something in my stomach began to churn when this daft woman uttered those biting words and I stood there groping for what to say to my son.

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How dare she put me in this position! How dare she speak those words into my son’s life! How DARE she.

I spent the entire rest of the Target trip replaying the interaction over and over in my head, trying to conjure up the perfect retort – what I should have said to that meddling wench. Who does she think she is, anyway!? But as I began to load my bags into the back of our car, I stopped dead in my tracks and started laughing.

Because I didn’t care.

I wasn’t outraged. I felt like I should have been outraged, like I had the right to be outraged. But I wasn’t. I wasn’t outraged at all. And I didn’t need to be.

Every thing isn’t worth getting outraged over. Some things are. But not every thing.

That lovely woman was just doing what mothers have been doing for a kajillion years before – trying to help out a fellow mother in (what appeared to be) distress. Sure, maybe we insert ourselves into situations when we should really butt-out, but I’ll be damned if that woman wasn’t just trying to do me a solid at Christmas time.

Yeah, it caused a moment of confusion for my kid – but it offered an opportunity for me to share our family’s position on Santa Claus, which I guess I’d neglected to mention until now. Then we laughed it off and let it roll off our shoulders, so we could focus on more important things – like ending world hunger, bringing home the littlest Bandas boy and deciding what Christmas story to read before nap time.





  1. Growing up I knew my mom and dad were Santa. We still played along with “Santa” things and singing Santa related Christmas songs. I’ve kind of followed this with my own kids. They know, but we like to pretend.
    To me, there wouldn’t have been a reason to be outraged or mad at the lady it doesn’t sound like she meant any harm. Part of being a community is interacting with each other (don’t get me wrong there are plenty of people who need to keep opinions to themselves). It’s good that you just moved on from it , it also shows kids that you don’t have to take in everything someone says 🙂

    • Oh totally! My point was that we are so quick to feel indignant about every little thing. And there is generally no need for it! Especially, when there is no malice coming from the other party. And you’re right, that sets a great example for our kiddos 🙂

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