The annual family Santa photo with a twist

The Montieth siblings gather after having their picture taken with Santa at Kitsap Mall last week. Their hair drew comments and compliments from all quarters. - Kristin Okinaka
The Montieth siblings gather after having their picture taken with Santa at Kitsap Mall last week. Their hair drew comments and compliments from all quarters.
— image credit: Kristin Okinaka

Starling Montieth told her younger sister that there was something on her present and brushed it off as they stood in line to get photographed with Santa with their siblings and mom. The present Starling tidied up was attached to her sister's head.

Just like a lot of families, 10-year-old Starling and her sisters have made a tradition of getting their picture taken with St. Nick. They just do it with their hair done up in a Cindy Lou Who style, complete with sparkling holiday decorations.

The tradition includes festively styling three of four daughters' hair. The youngest sibling is 1 and their older brother join in for the photo but skip the up 'dos, said mom Rebecca Montieth.

"We have to have a Santa picture," she said.

Montieth first got a photo taken with Santa when she was pregnant with her now 14-year-old son, Zan. The photos are now just of her children and the jolly 'ol fellow.

Last Thursday, the Jackson Park children took their photo with Santa at Kitsap Mall in Silverdale with Starling's hair designed as a snowman and her younger sisters' hair done up as Christmas trees.

The key ingredients to the girls' hair are hairspray, glitter, bobby pins and floral foam — hidden inside for structural support. Then come the decorations.

"What's the point of hair if you can't have fun with it?" asked Montieth.

The fun started two years ago when there was an American Girl contest for creative hair styles and Montieth's "mommy boredom" turned Starling's hair into a Valentine's Day-themed style done up similar to how her daughters' current Christmas styles look. The valentine version of the Cindy Lou Who hair was selected as one of the winners and Starling appeared in the company's magazine, Montieth said.

Since then, the creative-work turned into something Montieth does to her daughters' hair for special occasions like birthdays, Valentine's Day and of course, taking the annual photo with Santa.

On Christmas Day, things are toned down a little and Montieth will usually curl her daughters' hair.

Although not quick to admit it, her girls like the attention of the big hair, Montieth said. As they waited in line at the mall for a photo with Santa, they received comments from shoppers passing by that included "awesome" and "cute."

"I'm famous," said Paxton Montieth, 8, adding that kids at school also commented on her hair.

The three girls — and their hair — went to school earlier in the day to Jackson Park Elementary School.

Montieth said she got a call from a school administrator asking for permission to take a photo of her daughters for the school yearbook. The school officials also got a little grinch and said to never send the girls to school like that again. The stylized up-do seemed to be a distraction, she said.

Starling's hair, the longest of the girls, falls just above her waist when down.

The girls thought about what they were going to ask for Christmas as they waited to see Santa. Emma Montieth, 6, said she wanted a live Bronco. Starling said she wanted "more dance classes." Currently she takes ballet six times a week.

And although Zan, who played the nutcracker in a recent show, was not as thrilled as his younger sisters to get a Seussian family portrait taken, he didn't complain too much. If it were up to him, he wouldn't be there to take the photo year after year.

"I feel dragged here, very much so," he said.

But the Santa photo of her children, is what his mother wants.

"This is my Christmas present from my kids," Montieth said.


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