A picture’s worth a thousand words … | AspenTimes.com

A picture’s worth a thousand words …

April E. ClarkGlenwood Springs correspondent

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

Aspen, CO ColoradoGLENWOOD SPRINGS Five-year-old Josie Altmaier and her sister Lucy, 3, sat next to Santa on an overstuffed green chair as he held their 4-month-old sister Katie.”Smile,” said their mom, walking backwards, keeping her eyes on the girls after placing the baby in his arms Friday at the Glenwood Springs Mall.The girls pose as Santa’s helper – a photographer with a red Charlie Brown Christmas T-shirt and Santa hat – kneeled down to take their portrait.A photo to last a lifetime.

The picture on Santa’s lap may appear in a Christmas card to grandpa and grandma, be pasted in a scrapbook or tucked in a box of photos brought out every December.Holiday memories to last a lifetime.”The kids have been great – it’s amazing how much they love Santa,” said Manny Morena, aka Santa. “They just believe in Santa so much.”Morena and the mall’s Santa photographer, Roger Morena, are a father-and-son team continuing the tradition of pictures on St. Nick’s lap. Every weekend, they drive from Las Vegas to Glenwood Springs to see kids’ faces light up and hear what they want for Christmas.”The things they tell him are really cool,” Roger said. “I love it when they run straight from the door to give him a big hug.”

The average time spent on Santa’s lap is anywhere between 30 seconds and a minute, Manny said. Many make it quick. Just enough time to tell Santa they want a baby doll or a dinosaur, an iPod or a cellular phone.Except for a little girl named Kira Matthews.The 20-month-old in a red velvet-and-white chiffon dress with a satin bow and pigtails was more interested in hugging Santa than making a quick exit.As shoppers bustled by, she was in no hurry. She leaned her head on his shoulder and rubbed the arm of his velvet suit.

“She loves Santa,” Manny said. “She just wants to hug Santa.”When it came time to immortalize the moment, Kira’s mom, Tonja Matthews, stood behind Roger. She made reindeer antlers with her fingers as the 19-year-old photographer snapped his fingers to attract her attention.”She’s been having a ball with the whole Santa thing,” Matthews said. “She got to watch ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ last night.”Kira made a few return visits to Santa before plopping back in her stroller and heading off with her mom to shop.She didn’t seem to mind leaving, though, knowing he’d be visiting her in a couple days.