Photo of sleeping Santa and baby goes viral
UNDATED (NBC) -- Moms everywhere snap — and cherish — photos of their squishy, adorable babies. But sometimes, in the rarest of circumstances, a mother captures her own infant in an image so moving that it makes hundreds of thousands of people around the world gasp.
That’s what happened to an Idaho mom named Sarah Pasley, and for the past few days she’s been stumbling around in shock because of it.
“I can’t even believe it!” Pasley, 32, told TODAY.com. “I mean, I loved the photo, but I didn’t expect other people to be so uplifted by it.”
Pasley’s photo shows her youngest son Kiptyn meeting Santa Claus for the first time in the middle of a crowded Boise shopping mall. She took the photo last December when Kiptyn was 8 months old and very sleepy — so sleepy, in fact, that he slumbered blissfully right on the good-natured mall Santa’s chest.
Her friends and family loved the photo when they saw it last year, and that seemed to be the end of that. Then, about a week ago, Pasley saw that children’s clothing company Carter’s was seeking online photo submissions of kids meeting Santa for the first time. Pasley shared her beloved 2011 photo on Carter’s Facebook page.
And then ... KA-BOOM! The image of Kiptyn and St. Nick became an Internet sensation. In about three days’ time, the photo had more than 360,000 Facebook likes and had been shared more than 50,000 times. Media outlets around the world ran the photo and provided commentary about it. Pasley began experiencing a sensation that might affect many mothers in such a situation.
“I panicked!” she said. “I went online and actually took the picture down.”
Mom Sarah Pasley had this photo taken with baby Kiptyn last Christmas.
Despite that, the media attention intensified more than ever — and Pasley decided to take a deep breath and let it be. She re-posted the image herself and stopped asking Carter’s to take it down.
“I saw so many people commenting that they couldn’t find the Christmas spirit because of so many bad things happening in the world, but now they’re finding it again because of this picture,” said Pasley, a mother of three who pursues photography as a hobby. “That’s what this picture is all about to me.”
Pasley doesn’t personally know the Santa who meets hundreds of children each year at Idaho’s Boise Towne Square mall, but she adores him nonetheless. She said she never would have gotten the photo if Santa hadn’t motioned to have Kiptyn brought over to him, even though the baby had fallen fast asleep minutes before his first Santa encounter.
“His generosity and the way he treats people has impacted my life,” Pasley said. “I get choked up just thinking about it. ... He’s Santa Claus. He truly does embody what Santa is — the magic, the wonder, the joy and the love. He’s just so special. I hope he knows that!”