we got to the mall and i stood in line for about 5 min and tried to figure out how long it was going to take. i estimated it could take an hour to get to Santa, even though i went at dinner time in hopes of beating the crowd. after a while i figured we could come back after going to Sears, which is where i wanted to order more of Elle's portraits we'd had taken back in October. soooooooo we go to Sears, and lo and behold, there's a Santa Claus there, too. AND NO LINE!!!!!!!!!!!!! so we REALLY lucked out in that department. i asked the guys working if they'd like me to go tell a few people standing in line about their service so they could get more business...they pleaded with me not to do that, LOL. it was funny. anyway so i killed two birds with one stone, didn't have to put up with a huge-ass line, didn't end up with a cranky kid and cranky myself from waiting, and got my portraits and some nice pics of Elle with Santa as well (she was in a good mood, and didn't cry! even though she was a little scared...she ended up smiling, anyway. the Sears people are good at getting her to laugh.) :) i really hit the jackpot.