As I explained yesterday, I'm letting my Christmas Memories journal inspire my blog posts during this busy time of year.
So. Join me as we journey back to . . .
But first, a bit of backstory. In our household, Santa brought one special, requested gift for under the tree (not wrapped; just set up and ready-to-play) AND he filled the Christmas stockings. We encouraged the Santa-magic part of Christmas by helping the kids leave milk and cookies for Santa - and carrots for his reindeer - each Christmas Eve. And then by leaving the crumbs (of both cookies and carrots) for the kids to find in the morning. But we had decided that once the magic was wearing thin . . . and the kids were questioning the feasibility of the Santa-magic . . . well. We just wouldn't force the matter and try to get them to KEEP believing. We decided to just let things run their natural course. (Although we would not allow the first non-believing child to ruin things for the still-believing child.)
So. Back to 1996.
Erin was 7 and in second grade; Brian was 4 and in preschool. (I used to make them matching Christmas-themed pajamas each year. I'd actually forgotten that. But it's written right there in the journal. And, of course, there are photos to remind me.)
That year, Erin had asked Santa to bring her the dining set for her beloved American Girl doll, Kirsten. And Brian had asked for a battery-operated construction crane. (Big fun that Christmas!)
Once the "Santa-asks" had been made, the die was cast! I convinced the kids that orders with Santa were irrevocable. (This was so I could get my shopping done early . . . without worry about being able to fulfil the Santa-asks.) I ordered the requested items right away, and breathed a sigh of relief when they were hidden away, safely, in my house.
Now . . . second grade was the time Erin - always a big Santa fan - started developing a bigger worldview, which led to those tough Christmas questions:
How does Santa get all over the world in one night?
How can all those toys fit in that little sleigh?
We don't have a fireplace, so how does he get in our house?
Santa brings ALL the gifts to Jenna's house. Why does he only bring us one toy?
How does he KNOW we're sleeping?
Reindeer can't really fly . . . can they?
We provided . . . appropriate, vague, magical answers (especially if Brian was around), but didn't work overly hard to convince her. She was a smart girl -- we knew she'd figure things out when the time was right.
Let's move on . . . to Christmas Eve night 1996. The kids hung their stockings. They left out the cookies and the carrots. And we finally (finally) got them to sleep. It was time for Santa to arrive!
Tom and I dragged "Christmas" out from the various hiding spots in the house - arranging the wrapped gifts under the tree, filling the stockings, and setting up the Santa-asks under the tree . . . all while keeping a lookout for curious and over-excited children. Tom was struggling to assemble the construction crane (which ended up being about 5 feet tall. . . and way more involved than we expected) (of course) when I pulled Kirsten's dining set out of the box to set up under the tree. And discovered . . .
One of the chairs was broken!
We just sat there.
Looking at the broken Santa gift.
Tom, always a talented teller of tales, sat down and wrote a letter to Erin . . . FROM Santa. Although we didn't save it, it said something like this:
My dear Erin,
While I was hopping out of my sleigh up on your roof, I slipped in the snow. It was just a little slip, and I am not hurt. But I'm afraid I crushed one of the chairs in your dining set. I am so very sorry. I will take the chair back to my workshop at the North Pole and fix it right up tomorrow. I'll send it back to you by mail.
Ho! Ho! Ho!
And we left the note propped up on her little table.
In the morning . . . was Erin upset or disappointed at only having one little chair at her little table? Nope! Not at all!
"I sort of thought Santa couldn't be real, but now I KNOW he is!"
She even told us she was pretty sure she heard Santa on the roof; that she thought she heard him fall.
She hung on to the Santa story for one more Christmas after that.
There's nothing like some Christmastime magic!