Tuesday, December 20, 2011

santa santa santa

i am stranded in bed and i'm bored. if i lay still in bed, i don't feel sick. then i think maybe i'm feeling better and get up, then feel sick again. no, i'm not pregnant, just trying to fight off a bug. since i've exhausted apartment therapy and because it makes me want to get up and do projects (cue nausea) i figured i'd dust off some cobwebs over here.

for most of the month of december the boys have been talking about santa a lot, which reminded me of these posts i had written way back in the day about Christmastime. rereading them was funny. not so funny that it's pretty much the same stuff that i'm struggling with two years later.

before the holiday season rolled around, or maybe it was right after thanksgiving when some people were starting to put up decorations, ben declared one night while we were driving home that, "santa's not real, right mom?" i asked him a little bit why we thought that, but before we really got into it, we somehow got distracted. i kept meaning to revisit it with him and clear things up once and for all, but i'm a little paranoid that if i tell him the truth, he'll ruin it for some other kid. and with all the santa stuff swirling around now, he's back to thinking santa is real, mostly.

i've always been vague about santa. when he asks questions i ask him what he thinks. i talk about the santas we read about in stories or he sees in shows. now that max is older, him and ben have santa discussions-does santa have a car, does santa have kids,etc.

last year we were at the mall in december and he saw the santa that was there for picture ops, and although we didn't do pictures, because it was a tuesday morning and the mall was mostly empty, we had a really sweet experience with a very kind man. the other night as we were driving into my parents' neighborhood i saw a santa walking out of a house to his car and intentionally didn't point him out because i'm mean like that and didn't want to deal with the questions. but then ol maxey the hawk piped up from the back seat, "I JUST SAW SANTA!" ben chimed in that he saw santa too, but thought max was referencing the snow globe inflatable that we were driving by and then we were at grammie and poppa's. but as i unbuckled him from his seat, he said very definitively to himself, "i really saw santa."

so they've seen the guy (although even when we saw the mall guy, ben knew it was a guy dressed up as santa, but then goes back and forth in his belief) and santa is what every acquaintance talks to them about and what toys they're going to get from him. i want to make them wear shirts that say, "please don't ask me about what santa is going to bring me" because it totally reinforces the message that christmas is all about presents. i don't want them to be the brat that i was and only care about the stuff part and be disappointed when they don't get everything they want.

i just don't think i can make a convincing enough case for Jesus and "the reason for the season" when the competition is presents and the big guy in red.

i really just want to blurt out "SANTA'S NOT REAL!!! SANTA IS ***NOT*** REAL!!!" but oh man, i do not want the dirty looks from another parent when ben says matter of factly to their kid that santa's not real.

on my other "issues" i wrote about two years ago, we're still working on those as well. i just don't think there's any way around the Christmas eve/day chaos. my family has always celebrated Christmas eve with our immediate family. it got moved to new year's a couple years ago because my sister's family was sick and i tried to push that that become the new tradition, but it was not well received. i love the tradition and of course, the time with my family but it's just hard to then wake up early the next morning and catch Mass as we drive across town to make it to brunch with tim's family; something i also really enjoy and people i dearly love and want to spend time with, but just tiring. in tim's family, they then celebrate with cousins/aunts/unces at a big, big gathering on Christmas evening. this has always been the exhausting icing on the cake. i like his extended family, but we are just ragged by that point in the day. last year i put my foot down and declared in advance that we just couldn't do it. and we didn't, but i still felt badly about it. this year, since the boys are older and max isn't nap dependent, we're going to play it by ear. there are some members of his family that we would really like to spend time with and catch up with since it's been a couple years, but not if we're melting into tantrum puddles. (i'm not just talking about the boys!)

i suppose this all wouldn't be so stressful if tim had off more time from work, but he doesn't. he'll be back to work on the 26th and we're actually hosting a gathering of tim's old high school friends on the 26th with them possibly arriving before he's even home.

it's just sooo difficult. i genuinely like all these people and want to spend time with them. just not in the span of 48 hours!!!

(and this is where i feel like a totally ungrateful brat. some people have NO ONE to spend the holidays with.)


  1. This doesn't solve the "Is Santa real?" question but it could help give you a starting point for when you are ready to have that conversation with Ben.


    And I agree, I don't like people making Santa the first thing they talk about with our kids. We avoid talking about it as much as possible, choosing instead to talk about baby Jesus' birthday every chance we get. Good luck with that inquisitive little man of yours. It must be rough having such sharp kids!

    Oh, and boo on not feeling well. Hope you're on the mend quickly!

  2. I came clean with Issy this year because I thought that she was the one that would have the hardest time finding out about Santa and I wanted it to come from me. I told her that since she was getting to be a big girl she could be "santa" with us and be in on the surprise for her little siblings. And that we were trying to be generous and giving like St. Nicholas was. I also told her that it was the parents job to decide when their child should learn about the surprise and so she shouldn't tell her brothers and/or cousins.

    She was so totally excited to be one of the "big kids" and to get to help me with wrapping presents and making everything exciting for her brothers and sister. Someday, I'll have similar discussions with subsequent kids.

  3. We're kind of like Elizabeth's family it sounds like. We do Santa, but we really play it down. We go to 9:00 Mass on Christmas morning and Santa "comes" during Mass, so it really is an easy way to make Jesus the first and main focus of the day. We just don't talk a whole lot about Santa other than that, oh sure it comes up here or there but it just hasn't been too big a deal. We make a big deal of Advent and the feasts and such that go along with that and thus far that has worked out fine. Have you read "Honey for a Child's Heart"? Gladys Hunt really has a great take on the whole Santa thing and it was her perspective that finally gave me some peace and confidence in the matter.

    Erin, I like what you had to say about your situation with Issy. That sounds just as it should be. I think by the "age of reason" is a very appropriate time to come clean on the whole Santa thing.

    And on the whole family gatherings thing. Bleh. There are blessings and curses about living in the same town as all your immediate family. Good luck.

  4. Ugh! I know what you mean about the BIG family get together. We tried to see about having them stop it a few years ago because it seems like everyone is just hanging out with their own families. But my mom and her siblings like to do it. I haven't even been to it in a few years myself.

  5. I hope by now you are feeling better and you survived all the Christmas activities :)
    We have the same challenges every year and it seems like we are starting to get the hang of it better. This year we left the larger party a little early and that seemed to help the kids get some rest and we enjoyed playing with all the new toys and watched the new movies today without having to rush off anywhere.

    Erin--please tell Issy to keep mum on the Santa thing with Alaina as it's not quite time yet to explain that to her. It actually makes me sad to think this could have been her last year of innocence with that.
    St. Nicholas brings a new book about St. Nick, aka "Santa" every year (on his feast) and this year's book was about Santa's 'secret'--which is that he is really a Saint who lives in Heaven (not some guy who lives at the North Pole and is married, etc). We frequently remind our kids that St. Nicholas really did live and does still live in heaven and that some people know him now as "Santa". But we also make sure to warn them that some people have a very different understanding of who Santa is. This book also focused on the fact that St. Nicholas gives gifts because of his love for Jesus and that he 'hides' or sneaks his gifts b/c he wants people to focus on Jesus and not on him (Santa).
    Anyway, we also watched A Miracle on 34th Street Saturday and that gave us ample opportunity for discussion on the subject.
    I've just babbled so I will stop now. One day you're kids will figure out the whole Santa thing so for now just enjoy the 'fun'.