My husband and I are more of the logical sort than the whimsical. We’re more figure-it-out with reason than come up with some magical solution. We like the how’s, the why’s and to answer what for’s. It’s funny that we are this way because we’re also both artistic and creative. He in the tactile visual sense (drawing/painting/building/designing) and me, well mine’s all in my head. I write. I see beauty in the world around me. I document it with my camera sometimes. I know what I want things to look like but don’t always have the execution. At one point we were actually both making a living as artists! He still is. I’m more of a home artist. (An entire post for another time…)
Because these are the kinds of people that we are, we naturally parent this way as well. We were also parented this way. It’s been built into us both by nature and nurture and so it goes. What this means is that I’ve never believed in Santa. My husband never believed in Santa. We never got mystery gifts from him or left out cookies and milk. That was all just a bit ridiculous for us. For who we are.
So our children have never, not for one second of their life, believed in Santa. Why would we pass things on to our children that were never in us, y’know? So with logic and reason we explained who Santa was. Who St. Nick was. How good Coca-Cola’s marketing team is.
Then, we follow it up with an explanation of Christmas from our world view. Meaning, it’s all about Jesus! Not Santa. Capiche? They all nod and say, “capiche.”
So we deck the halls and we fa-la-la and we bake cookies and do all that everyone does at Christmas. Just minus the Santa. In our world, it’s really no big deal.
As an aside, I hold fast and strong to the fact that if I’m putting the money out for all of those gifts, I’m totally taking the credit for them. Not giving it to a fictitious man, no matter how jolly he may be, in a velvet suit! I digress…
My boys are getting bigger and with each passing year I want to hold onto them just a little bit tighter. I see them slipping slowly through my fingertips into new realms. They no longer just listen but they have opinions. They have their own things going in with sports and friends. I dread the thoughts of them turning 18 and moving away from me and so for some reason last Christmas this worked itself out in me by me….well…..going slightly bonkers.
I decided that it would be so fun to do one of those Elf thingies! The kinds you see all over online. You know the ones? So I got to work and made up 24 little notes and included different things for the boys to do in them. All from their “Christmas Elf.” Some days there were treats to be left, other times all the items needed to make snowflakes or a declaration that today was cookie baking day. Brilliant right? And fun? and whimsical? And child-like? And, did I mention totally unlike me? Yeah, there’s that…
December 1. My boys come downstairs and they see this decorated envelope. They open it frantically as it’s addressed to them and they begin to read. As they read, I start getting looks from my older two. The note is introducing Frankie, their Christmas Elf. It’s stating how he’s going to leave them notes. He was even a little cheeky and demanded that they leave notes back!
I looked over to my littlest little with excitement in my heart. This was going to be so fun for them. Right? Wrong. His little lip started to quiver ever so slightly. A single tear trickled down his cheek.
Bubba what’s wrong?
His little head looked up at me with glossy shining eyes and he whispered ever so softly, “How did he get in our house, mama?”
Right, little buddy. How did he get in our house? Um….yeah. So, you know how mama can look you in the eye and say with utter confidence that I will never lie to you. Right. So, you trust me with that, right? You know you can trust me right? I floundered.
And I threw in the towel right then and there. I looked at that boy and I brought his eyes up to meet mine and I told him that I would never lie to him. And then I told him that I made the elf up. That there’s no such thing. That it was all just something I thought might be fun.
If I would have thought for just a second, one second, about how we parent, about what we’ve taught them, about honesty and trust and reason and logic, I would have known this would be the outcome. Why would this suddenly be fun for them? It goes against everything we’ve ever told them and taught them about Christmas. He didn’t understand why I would do this. Why I would want to trick them. Why I couldn’t just make snowflakes with them and tell them it’s cookie decorating day.
His questions were valid. And thoughtful. And wise. He may have been only 8 but he knows what we’ve taught him and we’ve made ourselves trustworthy in his eyes and for just one little moment I let my desire for fun, for whimsy and silliness, overtake what we’ve passionately spoken to them to be true.
Christmas is not about Elves, little ones. It’s not about Santa. Or good baking. Or trees. Or music. Or presents. It’s about Jesus. For some people it’s about all those things. For some people it’s about some of those things. We even include some of those things in our celebrations but that’s not the main thing. The main thing is that a little baby was born by the grace of God knowing that he had come to earth to die. For us. Mama, just got wrapped up in nonsense for a bit. I’m sorry. Forgive me? And they did, though they haven’t let me forget it and it’s still referenced as an epic fail on my part. At least they know that I’m human. Mistakes are made, forgiveness needed and we plug along as a family despite it!
Do you have any epic christmas fails? I’d love to know I’m not alone…