How I almost spoiled Christmas for a 3-year-old boy

Earlier today, I was assigned to photograph Santa and Mrs. Claus as they paid a surprise visit to a local veteran’s wife and young son.

Santa Claus, played by Elmer Baker, opens up his bag in veteran Ryan Walton's York Township living room as Walton's son Ayden, 3, watches shyly on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. With the help of Santa and Mrs. Claus, CJ Hoffman and her nonprofit Feed the Vets Red Lion delivered an early round of Christmas presents, grocery gift cards and food to York Township veteran Ryan Walton's family on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. Walton, who served in Iraq and was at Fort Hood at the time of the 2009 shooting, is currently hospitalized for renal failure and disintegrating spinal discs. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

Santa Claus, played by Elmer Baker, opens up his bag in veteran Ryan Walton’s York Township living room as Walton’s son Ayden, 3, watches shyly on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. With the help of Santa and Mrs. Claus, CJ Hoffman and her nonprofit Feed the Vets Red Lion delivered an early round of Christmas presents, grocery gift cards and food to York Township veteran Ryan Walton’s family on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. Walton, who served in Iraq and was at Fort Hood at the time of the 2009 shooting, is currently hospitalized for renal failure and disintegrating spinal discs. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

Once we all arrived in front of the house, the merry couple began unloading gifts and food from their van. The entire time, we could see Ayden, 3, pressing his nose up against the living room window and gaping at us, and we could hear his gasps: “Is that Santa Claus?”

As Mrs. Claus readied the biggest bag of toys, Santa suddenly turned to me and said, “Hey, I’ve seen you around places. You’d recognize me probably, if I weren’t wearing all this.”

And with that, he began to tug at his beard and pull it down to reveal his mouth.

“Noooooo!” I shrieked. “Put it back on! He’s watching! You can’t de-beard yourself!”

And that’s how I almost ruined Christmas.

But I didn’t.

Check out more photos here.

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A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there is often more to say about a great photograph. The York Daily Record's award-winning visual staff offers a peek behind the lens and into the process of capturing, editing and publishing their most interesting photographs, video stories and more.
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