Flash forward 12 months and he wasn't getting anywhere near that strange bearded man. He clung to me marsupial style as I leaned him in for a photo op.
This year he possessed at least some form of rational thought, so with a little prep we were able to talk up Santa enough for him to actually willingly walk up to him and voluntarily sit on his lap. It helped that Santa was visiting the library just down the road and that there was no line, so it being a familiar environment with little time to panic certainly helped.
However, looking at the camera and not sobbing was a huge improvement. Later that week Santa was returning to the library for a special story time so we decided to go meet him again. This time Forest repeated that he wanted Toby AND he even gave a (very small) smile for his photo op.
Cha-ching! (Also Cha-ching that the only item on his xmas wish list is a 10 dollar non-battery operated toy for his train tracks. We threw in a train shed and a Thomas puzzle for good measure. Stay simple and sweet my dear train-obsessed boy.)