Once the decor was up, it was all I could do to keep from buying out all of Target and start wrapping presents. However, gift wrapping is such a one-step-forward-six-leaps-backwards feat when you have a very eager 2-year-old who just saw you put that Disney Princess Doll in the trunk about an hour ago. So, yeah, I'm waiting to wrap gifts right up until the last minute. Nevermind the piles of knotted up Target and ToysRUs bags at the foot of my bed, rumpled together with a giant blanket thrown on top to hide them...I realize this top-secret-super-secure hiding method may not last long!
But, this is going to be a crazy fun Christmas year. First of all - we have TWO little ones. All the more holly and jolly! And this year Matilda can say "HoHoHo" AND "Santa!" which is nearly as cute as blowing kisses each time it comes out of her mouth. She is like a little Christmas sponge, absorbing all knowledge of what is happening. I'm hopeful she understands a little bit about what the season is really about, though I'm pretty sure if she could speak more clearly she would give you some version of the Christmas story that involved baby Jesus coming down the chimney and giving her a lot of gifts including 8 reindeer in a manger and a trip to the North Pole on a donkey. So....we might be a little off on specifics...but as long as we keep up that both Jesus and Santa are taking notes on her levels of naughtiness, I think we're doing okay for now. (I kid.)
Nevertheless, Matilda is excited about Christmas. The other day, the plumber had to come over and unclog a drain (this ties in, just hang with me) and lo and behold he actually had to snake the drain from the roof (I know, weird, but you can see where I'm headed here). I didn't actually think Matilda would understand what I was saying so when we heard footsteps above us, I gasp and exclaim "Matilda! Is that Santa on the roof???" In an instant she jumps up, arms raised in the air and bolts for the front door screaming "SAAAANTAAAA!" in total Elf-style-exclamation! Hahaha, whoops. I had to then explain that my calendar was off and we'd have to wait a couple more weeks for Santa. Still, she was excited to see the plumber on top of the roof, so it wasn't a total loss.
Yes, Matilda, you will be told there is a Santa Claus. I grew up with Santa, so did my husband, and neither of us needed therapy because our parents lied to us (we needed therapy for a lot of other reasons, sure, but not because of Santa). Of course, this is a decision that each parent has to make for their kids. Certainly I've been questioned by others about it or had eyes rolled at me when I take Matilda to sit on some stranger's lap at the mall. I get it. It's not the truth and it undermines a greater, more important, focus of the season. Perhaps. But, in our home, Santa is also a kind, generous man who loves Jesus too. Each Christmas he comes, eats the cookies and milk we leave for him, and in return he leaves toys and a sweet letter always including a reminder as to why we really celebrate Christmas - the birth of Jesus. Maybe this seems petty, but it is simple and sweet and fun. And...let's remember I have a 2 year old who is just full of joy and not asking any questions yet...that time will come, and certainly the truth will be revealed soon enough. But, for now, I have a kid who is full of pure wonder and excitement. She gazes at the tree with delight. She holds her palms up to catch fake snowflakes when they fall (this is what Californians have to do, people). She steals ornaments and tries to hang them on her baby sister. It's fun, it's festive, and I love it. I want to keep Christmas merry and bright for her year after year, and part of that fun for us as her parents is to tell her about a jolly man in a sled who comes around once a year to make you believe in a little bit of Christmas magic and motivate you to spread a little holiday cheer. Yes, yes, this is always trumped by the fact that in truth the absolute miracle of the season came in the form of a tiny baby, born the Messiah...not in 8 tiny reindeer, I know. I want to emphasize that there is no comparison when it comes to the magnitude of these stories, one being fantasy and the other, life-altering reality (Praise God!)
[Oh, and a quick side-note that there is a true story behind Santa/St. Nick and all that as well...but, let's just stick to referring to the iconic Man in the Red Hat for this blog's sake, okay? That's really what I'm talking about here.]
Anyway, all this to say...do I have to give up Santa just because I love Jesus? I don't think so and I sure hope not. Instead, let's accept that Santa is incorporated into the holiday season - part of the gift-giving-egg-nogging-carol-singing-stocking-hanging-light-glowing-fruitcake-eating FUN that Christmas is all about. This joyful and generous spirit that surrounds us can, I think, help motivate the cheer we share in the Jesus-worshipping-canned-goods-donating-Salvation-Army-bell-ringing-Nativity-setting-candle-lighting-Bible-reading Christmas that we all genuinely care about...or should. These aren't two different holidays, folks, they are the same one. Embrace it! Or don't. But don't bah-humbug on my Santa-loving, okay? Anything that points us towards kindness and generosity ultimately points us towards Jesus in my book (well, in His book if we're really going there and excuse the idiom).
I'm not looking to include a Santa figurine in my Nativity. I'm just open to utilizing all holiday cheer and steering it in the direction of the Savior. Now, let's go watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and drink another peppermint mocha before the guilt sets in. I've got to address my Christmas cards before they get lost in another pile of Target bags.
Chaos and Cheer. Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum.