Saturday, December 27, 2008

Santa Baby

I love Santa, I really do. He brings me such joy this time of year. He offers me such leverage. Nothing trumps the threat of Santa not coming. These are the only two weeks in the year where sharing abounds and fights are found few and far between. Why? Because "I will call Santa right now and tell him to just go ahead and fly right by this house if you two don't knock it off!" I love that Christmas Eve my kids go to bed without negotiation or chatter because why? "If you two don't go to sleep right now, I will wait up for Santa and tell him that you made the naughty list this year."
The wee one is still too young for such Santa candor, so she indulges a bit more in the naughty list. Here are a few fine examples of what our naughty and nice list looked like this year.

Naughty: Breaking the head of the Raggedy Ann ornament. When asked who did it, everybody blamed somebody and nobody said he did it. Home surveillance tape shows the perp to be about 2 feet tall.

Nice: The kids made a few ornaments this year to add to the homemade tree. There is something very special about unwrapping these ornaments year after year and hanging them on the tree. There is a bell that sits near the top of our tree that my great grandmother made.

Naughty: Standing in the kitchen for 6 hours baking pecan sandies, sugar cookies, and seven layer bars, only to have Reagan lick 75 percent of the decorations before any of us could actually decorate the cookies.

Nice: The tradition of sugar cookies in our home. Every year I bake all 80 of them and the kids decorate them. They then pick their favorites to put on a special plate for Santa. I love that they will have this memory.

Naughty: The flu. Does anything more really need to be said. The most classic flu moment occurred at Christmas dinner when Logan quite calmly stood up from the table and proclaimed "Well I guess I will go to the bathroom since I just dropped a load in my shorts." He hasn't quite mastered the whole social filter thing yet.
Nice: I have had to clean out relatively few puke bowls since my mom is in town. My gag reflex is far too quick on the trigger for vomit. Pus, blood, guts, and poo are totally fine and within my capacities. Vomit, not so much.

Naughty: Santa kind of jipped the oldest. It occurred when in those few days before Christmas I dragged out all of the things that had been squirreled away for months. The neglected middle child was over compensated for, the wee one still isn't really into the whole present thing, and the oldest, who savors everything Santa, had a pile of 3 things.

Nice: Everyone thinks Santa is this really great guy because he sacrifices all of his time one day of the year to take toys to kids all over the world. His reward is countless homemade cookies of all varieties and a glass of milk with each one. You don't hear much about Mrs. Clause. Well, it's Mrs. Clause that does all of the toy making, and ensures that each child is well taken care of. She's the one looking for a parking spot at Target the day before Christmas Eve at 10:00pm to get the most desired item of the eldest child. Her reward? Rockband!! Total score, I am so almost ready to start touring with my mad skills.

Naughty: 5:00am. That's the time we finally let the kids get up. Actual time they woke up 2:00am.

Nice: 5:00am any other day of the year is appalling! But on Christmas day, it is pure magic. Santa always leaves the Christmas tree lights on, that's how you know he's been there. When you are up in the wee hours of morning, before the rooster crows, and the sun peaks over the horizon, those tiny colored twinkle lights of the tree faintly light up the haul below, and the kids squeal with excitement. That is the magic of Christmas.

Naughty: It has been a rather tumultuous year for us. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that 2008 was so NOT my favorite year.

Nice: But it was a year of tremendous growth and learning. The refiners fire has taught me more than I believed I was capable of. I have learned during this season of Christ's birth more about the power of his atonement. I have learned that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather an opportunity to learn great depths of humility. I have learned that friends are a source of strength that I believed only families held. So to "Santa's Helpers" thank you. We couldn't discern your scampering feet, but the gratitude I have is unparalleled to anything I have been grateful for before.

With a house full of kids and dogs the naughty list seems to grow faster than a weed in spring rain. Good thing we have so many nice things to be thankful for!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Here Comes Santa Claus

A few years ago I told my kids the story of how I saw Santa putting presents under the Christmas tree when I was five. It was magical peaking around the corner watching him pull presents out of his sack and carefully sack them by the tree. I didn't think much of telling them this story until the other day on the way to school Logan mentioned that the existence of Santa is a real hot topic on the playground. Logan, being the lawyer in training that he is, made his case for Santa and sited my tale of seeing him as a child as his evidence. In his mind, case closed. Caitlyn, being the direct child she is, flat out asked, "Is Santa real?" So now added to the list of excellent qualities I have as a mother, lair can now be found there.

Well with all this talk of Santa, and reindeer, and the North Pole, we decided to seal the Santa deal and took them on the Polar Express. During the summer, this train operates as the Grand Canyon Railway taking thousands of people through the Grand Canyon. But come December, the train becomes the Polar Express to the North Pole to see Santa.

On Wednesday we picked the kids the kids up early from school and started the 2 1/2 hour drive to Williams, which is at the base of the Grand Canyon. The first hour was smooth sailing, the kids all fell asleep because they knew it was going to be quite a long drive to the North Pole. During the second hour, we stopped to eat, and it was in that last 45 minutes that the assaults on one another began. It started with the paper bag from dinner being turned into swords. It ended with Caitlyn telling a french fry "You should be dead by now." I know, right? Where do they get this stuff? So after the little chat on why we don't say we are going to kill things, we all hopped out of the car to see Santa.

The train ride was very exciting for the kids. Everyone wears their pajamas and the elves on the train give each person a hot chocolate and cookie and then they read the story of the Polar Express. By the time you reach the North Pole, Santa is on his sleigh and an elf is loading the bag of toys. Logan was hanging half way out the window to make sure he got the chance to see the North Pole up close. I am sure he wanted to submit it for further evidence in his case. Santa then boards the train and gives every child who believes in him a bell. Then on the way back everyone sings songs.

I debated for a while as to whether or not I "heard" the bell ringing, but in the end, I heard it. All 97 of them on the train. But it's Christmas right? And what's Christmas without a little magic?