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Bah… Humbled

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that we have all had moments in our lives as parents when we have been completely humbled by something that our children have said or done. This was one of mine…

The small town where we currently reside has a wonderful holiday tradition. The local fire department gives Santa a ride into the various neighborhoods and sets up a spot on the back of the fire truck where he can sit in all his festive glory, receive the gleeful children, and ask what they would like to find under their trees come the 25th. They also set up a table to the side where they serve hot chocolate and cookies to all.

I really cannot express in words how grateful I am for their efforts. Coming from a totally mom point of view, it saves me from the following: driving around trying to find a Santa ( … ehem…Santa’s helper… ), finding a parking place that doesn’t require walking a distance generally reserved for taxi service, standing in a ridiculously long line while listening to a chorus of a million little voices calling out “are we almost there?” mixed with the occasional “Mommy, I have to pee!”, and paying out a small fortune for the privilege of a snapshot. This, especially given that Little Man is at an age when I know darn well that he has heard “the news” about Santa from his friends, but is still wrestling with his want to believe. But, that is a topic for another post… No, seriously. It was actually the topic of another post.

Anywho … as soon as I saw the sign go up in the neighborhood, I made certain that nothing in the busy holiday schedule would interfere with us being front and center in the park that evening, waiting for the sirens to sound.

When the fire truck carrying Santa rolled in, the kids began to cheer. (This after they chased what I like to call the “decoy” fire truck… the one that looks like Santa might be on it, but actually has the hot chocolate and cookies on board … for about half a block). Little Man had been waiting near the curb instead of playing in the park, so that he could be one of the first to speak with Santa.

Last year at this same event, we got a giggle when Little Man brought a Christmas notebook (complete with magazine cut-outs) along to show Santa what he wanted… because they were “very scientific things”, and he didn’t want Santa to get confused. This year he insisted that he didn’t need any visual cues for Santa, so I knew I would have to lean in to hear his Christmas requests.

When his turn came, I pulled out my phone/camera and he slowly shuffled up to Santa. I have to say … I was a little thrown by his serious expression, but Santa took it in stride and asked him what his name was and what he wanted for Christmas. AND THEN… my son totally froze.

With his head in his hands, Little Man wracked his brain for something to say, but the only sounds coming from his mouth were a series of “uuummm”s “eerrrrr”s and “hmmmm”s.

Santa looked over at me. I shrugged. Then Santa panicked a little (most likely after glancing back at the line of antsy neighborhood kids still waiting for their turn) and started randomly naming toys and electronics that were popular requests. (Which, if I can just take a moment to address all of Santa’s helpers out there … is a dangerous game to play, as I clearly heard some items that would have been a hard no from me.) Anyhow, every suggestion was met with a “no thank you”.

Santa looked over at me again, clearly at a loss. I threw him a lifeline.

“Hey Buddy, how about you write Santa a letter and let him know what you want that way?” I suggested.

Santa nodded vigorously. “That is a wonderful idea. I love letters!”

Little Man agreed and hopped off his lap. Santa smiled, gave him a pat on the shoulder, and wished him a Merry Christmas.

I got some pretty hilarious pics out of the experience. It all ended happily and, with a tummy full of hot chocolate (YUM), I was ready to move on full speed ahead to the next holiday task … a little flustered at all the things that needed to be done.

A few days later, while I was driving Little Man to school (and mentally planning out a day of shopping), I asked him why he had been so nervous with Santa and why he couldn’t think of what he wanted for Christmas. This was also a somewhat strategic line of questioning, since I was trying to figure out what Santa was going to get him.

“I wasn’t sure how to tell him,” he said.

“How to tell him what?” I asked, wondering just how complicated this item was going to be to find.

“I wasn’t sure how to say that I just want things back to normal for Christmas.”

It felt like all of the oxygen had been suddenly sucked out of the car when his words met my ears. It is true, a lot has been going on for us this Christmas. It has been a rough Christmas, complete with displacement and concern (#astoryforanothertime), but we have been doing our darnedest to keep things going and to make it as festive as possible. Heck… I decorated scaffolding, for Pete’s sake. I climbed up onto a ladder and wrapped a shiny strand of garland around a sawdust covered scaffold. I even slapped a couple of bows on that sucker. We have attended Christmas parades and caught candy as it flew off the floats. We made cookies and candy cane reindeer!

Here I was knocking myself out, trying to make the holidays as shiny and exciting as possible to block out the chaos, and he was simply wishing for “normal”… I suddenly felt humbled.

“I don’t know, Mamma,” he continued. “People are always asking poor Santa for this and that, but do they really need all that stuff? It sounds kind of selfish to me. I’ll bet some of them don’t even say ‘thank you’. I’ll bet they don’t even worry about making Santa bankrupt. I’m not going to ask him for anything this year, but I might still write him a letter.”

I managed to get out a choked “well, I am sure he would like that.”

“Do you think you can help me catch a skink when we get home?” he asked. “I would like that.”

I smiled. “Sure, Sweetie. I would like that, too.”

A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from The Moon, The Sun, and Little Man, Jeff the skeleton elf, Dante the dog, Brachetto and Spumante (yes we named our cats after wines), the ball python vacationing at our home because we were “the only ones nearby who could house the poor guy while the dorms are closed”, and Steve the skink (our most recent guest).

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