Journaling Christmases Long, Long Ago
The Christmas Way-Back Machine: Day 2

The Christmas Way-Back Machine: Day 1

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.

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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!
Merry Christmas!
Love, Santa

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!  


Said Erin:  
"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!



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A quick-thinking Tom to the rescue! Thanks for a heartwarming story, and photos of your adorable kids!


What a fabulous story Kym! And I love the pajamas. I can remember being positive that I had heard Santa and his reindeer on our roof one year. Your pictures are priceless. Thank you for sharing!


Oh! My heart just burst with joy - and my eyes with tears! Bravo for quick thinking Tom! Good thing Santa did not have a pair of YakTrax!!

In our house, we had a "magic bell" that we all could hear - which, helped with Santa belief. By the time they no longer believed in the actual Santa, they did believe in the magic of Santa - and the joy of getting others a gift they really want.


What a fabulous story! It's great that Erin could enjoy a little bit of the Christmas magic for a little longer (though clearly she was catching on). Good work by Tom to do such quick thinking!


Best. Story. Ever. (I once told Dan the tooth fairy must have had to go to the ATM...)


Awww, this is the BEST story. I love it and I'm glad you shared it with us. I distinctly remember Christmas Eve 1996, it was the first Christmas I spent with Dale.


What a GREAT story! Could go into an anthology like Chicken Soup for the Christmas Parent's Soul or an annual Reader's Digest feature. Were those pajamas made with LANZ fabric ( pretty much in vogue about then)? In our house, we opened presents on Christmas Eve which pretty much excluded Santa from the picture. So an Angel came to bring the presents. We had to stay in our room until the "angel" finished setting up everything under the tree when she would ring a little bell for us to come out. We knew about - and believed - in Santa, but we figured the Angel had the jump on Christnmas so who were we to argue:).


That was CHRISTMAS without the N. (I feel as though I've just committed Yuletide heresy:).)


Oh, what a great story!! I remember my kids noticing the similarities between Santa's handwriting and mine. :)

Santa's elves left a note for our kids one year... in the space normally occupied by a big wooden dollhouse. Something along the lines of "We took this to our workshop, so look for it at Christmas." So it wasn't a surprise to find it under the tree, but the paint job/redecorating sure was!


That is such a wonderful Christmas story! Your journal must be so much fun to read through. Our mom made us each a flannel nightgown for Christmas. How I loved mine! My parents went through many of the machinations you did with your kids (but we had 5 or 6 kids!). I really should write down the Christmas tales from our family and maybe get my sisters to help and write the stories they remember.

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