In the photo, a very authentic-looking Santa smiles for the camera while a solemn-looking, 1-year-old Samuel averts his eyes. His chubby little toddler hands are making the American Sign Language (ASL) sign for “help,” or as close to it as he can get.
Mashable reported that Spencer, whose Facebook profile states that she is a faculty member at Stevenson University, taught both of her children ASL.
“We taught both our kids baby sign (language) because they can sign before they talk and it is so very useful to be able to communicate with your baby,” Spencer said.
Spencer said she shares the photo each year on Facebook, but this year, her friend, author Mette Harrison, asked her to tweet it so she could retweet it to her own followers.
As of Monday morning, the tweet had more than 25,000 likes and had been shared close to 6,700 times.
Some of the reactions to the photo were nearly as funny as the photo itself.
“Wonder what my son was trying to say,” one Twitter user wrote above a photo of a little boy showing Santa his middle finger, with Santa looking on with great interest.
“Something boss. I can tell,” Spencer responded.
“This is how I signed ‘help,” another woman wrote, sharing a photo of herself as a child, screaming on Santa’s lap and desperately trying to get away.
“That works, too,” Spencer wrote.
Other commenters pointed out that Samuel’s technique wasn’t quite right.
“It’s ASL baby sign,” Spencer wrote in response. “Like with spoken language, certain words are ‘mispronounced’ by babies learning them.”
She posted an image of the ASL sign for comparison.
Overall, people found the photo as hilarious as Spencer and her family do. Samuel, now 13, even got in on the Twitter action.
"I happen to be the baby in this photo," he tweeted. "You may direct all likes and follows to me now."
“You’re a big boy now,” his mom responded.
“You got that right, Hun,” Samuel wrote.
Spencer said the entire family laughs at the photo each year.
"Posting it is one of our favorite family traditions," she said, according to Mashable.