It was the night before Christmas, and all through the house…
…the children were banished to their rooms for the rest of the night so Mom and Dad could do their Christmas Eve Santa magic. They were NOT to come upstairs. They were to call me from their cell phone if they were hungry, thirsty or dying. They had a washroom to use and running water. Come upstairs and dismemberment would be their middle name. It was a happy time.
Just as I was getting my groove on, happily applying last minute bows to gifts and artistically placing them under the tree, the man of the house went to check on the 16 year-old and the 11 year-old. He came back up with some Christmas Eve-shattering news.
The 11 year-old was panicking Santa wouldn’t come because he didn’t write a letter.
The same 11 year-old who, despite the rest of the family’s protests, declared months ago he knew who the ‘real’ Santa was. We all deny otherwise and enjoy keeping up the fantasy – even the 16 year-old. I knew ‘that time’ would eventually come (for some later than others, it seems), but I still do everything to keep those childhood fantasies alive and fun.
Minutes before, through some cajoling, he somewhat participated in the laying-out of the cookies and milk ritual, the carrot for the reindeer ritual, and the hanging of the Santa key on our front door ritual (we don’t have a chimney – how else is he supposed to get in?). And then my little sugar plums were banished to their rooms for the night.
But I think our ultra-heightened Christmas Eve antics planted such a seed of doubt in his head, he didn’t know what to think. With all the excitement, build-up and just plain old being tired, I think at that point I could have told him the sky was green and he would have wondered….
Back to the panic….
So there he was, banished to his bedroom, last minute thoughts of ‘what if’ swirling around in his head, tormenting him. Poor kid; awful mother.
I sent down some paper and a pen with instructions to write an EXCEPTIONALLY nice letter, and to ONLY ask for five things, with no guarantee. I knew ‘Santa’ was good on all accounts, so I had no worries.
The letter was later delivered to me for placement by the cookies, and through my tears I was able to read his apology for ‘forgetting’ to write the letter, his apology for ‘sometimes’ being a jerk (his words, not mine), and his list of only two things. Later, after I was in control of my emotions I went down for a goodnight kiss and hug, and his panic had subsided.
Christmas morning came ‘round, and Santa had come through.
Yes, Christmas isn’t about the gifts or the bows that I worked so hard to perfectly place. We are fortunate to be able to even have Santa come to our house – many houses are not. But the wonder and magic of the ‘what if’ of the season is part of the excitement, and there is no reason why that openness to possibilities can’t be carried on year round.
I thought about this ‘enlightening’ Christmas Eve, and after deciding the poor kid likely didn’t need therapy, I realized how important this moment was. It was a reminder that no matter what age, always save room in your heart for the possibility of magic, for the hope of greater things, and for the wonder of childhood. It’s now 2012 and time is flying by. Make the most of it and enjoy every moment, no matter what you believe in.
(P.S. Before you think I am a bad mother for exposing my kids’ crisis, he doesn’t read this blog, and I know no one will tell him, otherwise. Right?)