I haven’t given you much of a chance over the past few years. Honestly, I really haven’t felt that confusing the idea of you with the idea of Christmas was a great plan, and didn’t want you to become the focal point of the holiday for Henry or Eloise. Last year, we didn’t talk about you, except to ask Henry if he wanted to visit you. He quickly declined, which made things fairly easy. I was happy not to have the conversation on the table.
I don’t know if this makes me a good girl or a bad girl, and really, I don’t need to know. Everyone has a difference of opinion where you’re concerned, but it took me until adulthood to realize you were so controversial.
Then I got to thinking…a round, old man and total stranger, dressed in a crazy suit and busting into the house in the middle of the night with gifts? When I put it this way in my head, it’s easy to decide I’d probably rather the house just be left alone. But then, I never minded all of your shenanigans as a kid–I actually loved them! It’s hard to know which side of the sleigh you’re on when the matter regards a fictional character (no offense).
It’s just that I’ve wanted so much for our little ones to know the true reason we’re celebrating Christmas, and I have a feeling that without a good foundation on the subject, they might miss the manger for the reindeer instead. So…we’ve kind of been avoiding you, Santa.
And when I say “we’ve,” I should probably say “I’ve.” I’m really the Grinch here, let’s be honest. Because you’re fun and fun to imagine, and the season of Christmas should be magical, and maybe I’ve robbed us from some part of celebrating because I’ve kept you tucked away at the North Pole. At least, I did the best I could…
Turns out though, that kids are going to be kids, and they’re smart, too. There’s no way they aren’t going to see you all over town at Christmastime, and, by nature of being kids, they’re going to want to know about you and ask about you and get to know you. Like, sit on your lap and talk, you know?
The questions started a few weeks ago: “Mom, how many Santa’s are there?” “How far is it to the North Pole?” “Does Santa have a mouth? I didn’t see it under his beard.” “Does Santa have a wife?” “Does he always wear a red suit?” “Will Santa wait for us until we get there?”
Even at this, I’ve responded with open-ended answers…”What do you think about that?” “I’m not sure.” “We’ll have to check on that.” Clearly, I’m still battling, not wanting to perpetuate the idea of you any more than necessary. And, clearly, I stopped believing a long time ago.
I’m sorry, Santa. I am. Especially now that we’ve caved at taken the kids to see you at their request. Why did we do this when I’m such a curmudgeon? Well, because I didn’t have the heart to tell Henry you’re not real, and because he tells me he’s most excited about it being Jesus’ birthday, which makes me feel like maybe there’s room in the stable for you, too, this Christmastime.
Last night, we made our way downtown to visit you, and the kids we’re so excited. And then it was their turn to see you, and you were kind and patient and thoughtful and engaging. It’s possible my heart grew a size-ish or two as you hugged and high-fived and fist bumped Henry, telling him he was the best. Did you see the grin on his face?!
“Mom and Dad and I have been talking about some LEGOS,” Henry told you.
“I need some new puzzles…” Eloise said shyly after warming up to you little by little. By the time we went to leave, she was calling herself Santa and insisting we wait for you to come back downstairs from feeding the reindeer. As you made your way across the room, you sang with a perfectly Santa voice and a perfectly lovely amount of holiday cheer. You were exactly what little girl dreams are made of at Christmas time.
Tonight as we left church, Eloise said this from the back seat: “Mommy? I love Jesus and Santa. I love them soooooooo much!” I suppose in that order I can make my peace if you can, Mr. Claus.
I’m sorry I’ve been such a stick in the mud recently. I’ll try to make you feel welcome this year, if only because there’s room for unexpected guests at Christmas, and I’m trying to be graceful, after all.
Used to wear long brown pigtails and black patent leather shoes with my green velvet dress. Remember me?
P.S. A few days ago, Henry asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I went on for a minute about how I didn’t really need anything, and how the things I’d pick out were more expensive than necessary anyway. “I know you don’t need anything, Mom, but what do you want?” Maybe the whole idea of you is just that, Santa. Maybe your heart is like Henry’s, wanting to understand the hearts of everyone else. The world could use a bit more of that, I think. I’ll leave the light on for you.