At Bass Pro Shop.
If you are not familiar with Bass Pro Shop, I can sum it up for you in one word: camo.
Bass Pro Shop sells everything you would ever need to live the outdoor life. Camping gear, boats, four-wheelers, kayaks, deer stands, guns, knives, fishing poles and coolers.And camo. Lots and lots of camo.
With the help of the Bass Pro Shop professionals, you can outfit yourself to look like tree bark, leaves, snow or the desert. In case you happen to be hunting deer in the desert, I guess.
I discovered that there's even pink camo, which I suppose is meant to appeal to the lady hunters among us. But it seems to me that this rather defeats the purpose of camo, unless you happen to be hanging out in a pink forest.
If you've been reading this little writing experiment for more than, say, a day, you are aware that I am not a camo kind of girl. I don't particularly like to be outside even under the most ideal circumstances, much less when there are redneck idiots with guns around. So why, you may ask, did I take my daughter to Bass Pro Shop to see Santa?
Because it was the least inconvenient place to do it.
Yes, you heard me. I base my daughter's Christmas memories on convenience. I expect my Mother of the Year award to arrive any day now.
Ellie isn't crazy about Santa to begin with. She likes the IDEA of Santa, as long as he doesn't get too close. And since I will spend her entire childhood teaching her to avoid strangers, I have some problems with the whole idea of encouraging her to sit on the lap of a strange old man. So I figured the less effort we had to put into the Santa production, the better.
I had heard that Bass Pro Shop had a pretty cool little Santaland thing going, and that the lines tended to be short. Compare this to one of our local malls, where I heard Santa has been so busy that they pass out beepers just to tell you when to come back and stand in line. From that point you still wait for an hour or more. Considering that I would have a two-year-old with me, who might not even want to sit on the guy's lap once we got our turn, this did not sound like a good idea.
So off to Bass Pro Shop we went.
And surprisingly enough, Santaland was indeed kinda cool -- there was a model train, and a remote control racetrack. And also something that involved shooting at a deer-shaped target. We avoided that one -- I wasn't sure how I would explain target practice with Donner and Blitzen. And, miracle of miracles, the Santa photo was free. Did you hear that? They GAVE me the keepsake photo of Ellie on the old guy's lap, complete with the Bass Pro Shop logo and everything. Amazing.
And Santa was, thank God, NOT wearing camo. Although many of his visitors were. And one of his elves was about 6'2", 250 pounds, sporting Wranglers and a mouthful of chewing tobacco with his elf hat.
As an added bonus, the place is FULL of taxidermied animals, which fascinated Ellie. Bears, moose (mooses?) possums, foxes -- she kept saying "More ammils! More ammils!" I had been out in the cold at the zoo with her the night before -- if I had known dead animals would intrigue her just as much as live ones, I wouldn't have bothered.
So even though Bass Pro Shop is not somewhere I would normally hang out, it turned out to be a good place to see Santa. We might even do it again next year. Because, really, when you come right down to it, where else can you get a Santa photo with a large-mouth bass on it?