Last night we went to visit Santa. It was our yearly tradition of “Sushi and Santa” at Katsuya at the Americana. So LA, I know. But it’s lovely. Millions of beautiful lights, a giant tree, live music and snow. It’s a Christmas wonderland. On our drive there I realized that we haven’t talked about Santa much this year. Lake had no idea who he is and I wanted her to be excited and not terrified. And Adam hasn’t talked at all about what he was going to ask Santa for. In fact, he hasn’t really talked about getting presents at all. So far Christmas truly has been about being excited to go to Minnesota to see family, decorating the house and their room, and practicing songs for their school Christmas program. I didn’t realize it until last night, but I was proud that Adam wasn’t making it about things he wanted. It took him a long time to even come up with something to ask Santa for.
When it came time to actually meet Santa Adam was prepared. He very politely told him he would like a new Transformer toy. The lovely Santa was so sweet and kind and said well that sounds fun! But remember you have to be a good boy. And you have to do two things, be nice to your siblings and listen to your folks. Seemed easy enough. Alex and I giggled, Adam smiled, we took a photo and left. 10 minutes later we were getting in the car and Adam was drinking what was left of his water. Lake had said she wanted water also so as he was drinking Alex told him not to drink it all. Two seconds later he finished it. Alex and I immediately jumped all over him about being disappointed that he didn’t share with his sister and he immediately burst into tears. The inconsolable sobbing, can’t talk kind of tears. We let him cry for a second and started driving home thinking he was just tired. But he was so beyond upset, more sad than I’ve ever seen him. Through the sobs he was trying to say that he didn’t hear us and that he didn’t know Lake wanted water. And then he said I just don’t know if I’ve been a good boy this year. And my heart shattered into a million pieces. This sweet little boy with a heart bigger than anyone I’ve ever known, who is endlessly kind to his sisters, even when they are terrorizing the place, who shares without being told all day long, who constantly asks if we can go home and “cuddle as a family.” But he was so scared that this one single incident made him a bad kid. He said he was going to have a sad Christmas because he wasn’t going to get any presents. I pulled over to the side of the road and crawled into the back of the car next to him and tried to explain through my own tears that he was the best person I know. And that Christmas was about giving gifts to the people you love and that so many people love him. It sort of helped.
Up until last night we have never tied presents to being naughty or nice. We don’t have an elf that watches over the house to report back to Santa about how the kids are acting, we don’t talk about naughty and nice lists. We don’t believe Christmas should be about threatening kids into good behavior. And yes, in most houses an innocent reference to Santa watching to illicit good behavior is completely benign and I am certainly not passing judgement. But in our house right now it’s just not necessary.
While I love the magic of Christmas, I haven’t completely been able to wrap my head around the whole Santa situation. I want my kids to believe. I just don’t want Christmas to revolve around him. So we will still leave him cookies and set out our stocking, but we won’t write him letters telling him how good we’ve been and the gift he brings will be small but fun. And if Adam starts asking real questions I think it’s going to be hard for me to keep the ruse alive for too long.
Already this morning Adam has gone back to talking about gifts he wants to get for Lake and Poppy, and getting excited to go to Minnesota. So hopefully he knows he’s going to have a great Christmas. Because I know giving really does make him happy, and we can’t wait to fly to Minnesota to play in the snow and spend time with all the people we love.