• Slideshow Photos

    Scared of Santa

    For parents, a visit to the mall Santa is a moment for a cute photo op. But for some kids, it can be a moment of pure terror.

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    Terrified of Santa -

    In 2003 and 2006, the Chicago Tribune asked readers to send in their favorite pictures of frightened children with Santa. The result: hundreds of photos starring teary-eyed children and mostly resolutely cheerful Santas. Chicago Tribune editors Denise Joyce and Nancy Watkins compiled the photos in their book, "Scared of Santa: Scenes of Terror in Toyland." Take a look at some of our favorites.

    'Do you recycle these or just toss 'em?'

    Santa looks ready to jettison Bret Blankenship as world-weary sister Arika waits with her list, 1977. Sent by mom Paula Smartt.

    This holiday tradition never gets old, so send in your own "Scared of Santa" submissions to TODAY MOMS on Facebook.

    Scared of Santa: Scenes of Terror in Toyland / Scared of Santa: Scenes of Terror in Toyland
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    Crying in camo -

    "The camouflage didn’t work. Next time, try a red suit." Gustav Tosterud, 2005. Sent by parents Dominic and Karli.

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    Escape from Santa -

    So-o close to a clean getaway. Lily McManamy strains to escape, either aided or hindered by her day-care teacher -- no one is quite sure, 2005. Sent by parents Sean and Melissa.

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    A little too jolly -

    'I'm a lumberjack and I’m ok' Go ahead and laugh, but at least Eli Roos got in this 2006 picture. Mom Peggy reports that his sister wouldn't go near that bug-eyed elf.

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    'Let me go!' -

    This 1969 photo has a great variety of expressions, not to mention the body language. As it turns out, writes mom Judi Hennessy, "The older children, Lisa, 7, and Todd, 5, are holding the jacket of Amy, 2, so she can't run away."

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    Frankenstein returns -

    This 1999 photo has that little extra something: Is it Jarrett Vukelich's Frankenstein-like pose? The calm yet viselike grip on his shirt by sisters Erin (left) and Cat? Everyone pretending that there isn't a small nuclear device detonating right under their noses? Grandma Joan Lescher sent this with a note on paper shaped like a smiley-faced Santa (nice ironic touch, Joan).

    HANDOUT / HANDOUT
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    Daddy dearest -

    'Sir, the idea is to have her sit in my lap.' Tim and Julia Abbott, 1998.

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    Freaky facial hair -

    'I like to stuff the beard up my nose and then sneeze on the kids.' Fun with the facial hair at the expense of Pat Joe Hassett, 2004. Sent by parents Gina and Patrick.

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    Santa's beauty rest -

    'Scream louder, he's still asleep.' Cassie Khan's elapsed time on Santa's lap was twelve seconds, according to mom Shila. That's big brother Alex waiting her out in this 2006 photo.

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    A bad day for Santa -

    'All I need are some railroad tracks and some rope, and I’m good to go.' Samantha Wilk, 2005, with a Santa who's some kind of cross between Snidley Whiplash and W.C. Fields. Sent by mom Stephanie Wilk Peterson.

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    Skeptical Santa -

    'Hmm, This ball should just about fit ... ' Graham Henderson leads Santa into almost overwhelming temptation, 1991. Sent by mom Janet.

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    Toy torment -

    Even the scrooges we know couldn't help but laugh at this 1981 shot from Valerie Miller, who captured daughter Amie's first glimpse of St. Nick-- artfully rendered in plastic. It's the first in a series that Miller says she torments Amie with every year. Now this is a mom who knows what Christmas is all about.

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    'Scared of Santa' -

    Photos and text excerpted from "Scared of Santa: Scenes of Terror in Toyland," by Denise Joyce and Nancy Watkins. Reprinted with permission from HarperCollins. For more from the book, click here.

    To send in your own "Scared of Santa" submissions to TODAY MOMS, click here.

    Scared of Santa: Scenes of Terror in Toyland / Scared of Santa: Scenes of Terror in Toyland