“It just doesn’t make sense, Mama.” My daughter, Erin, at age THREE, was trying to understand Santa Claus. Her four-year-old sister was in the booster seat next to her looking nervous. She had a lot riding on Santa.
I gripped the wheel a little tighter, my glance in the rear-view mirror darting between the two kids. “Punkie, it’s Christmas Magic; it can’t be explained in words,” a lets–move-on tone in my voice.
“Use your words, Mama!” she shouted angrily.
I hate Christmas! I hate lying to my kids! Why did we come up with this ridiculous story? It’s not even three-year-old proof! This is too stressful to do alone.
I would recite this refrain every time I had to move that damn Elf on the Shelf, and when I awoke from the recurring nightmare that the kids woke up Christmas morning to no presents because I fell asleep before putting them under the tree.
A few years later, when Robin was in second grade, a kid told her that there was no such thing as Santa Claus. She asked me if this was true. I’d promised myself when I got divorced that I’d never lie to the kids. So, I took a big gulp and said, "Yes."
By this time, Erin had figured out that the ROI on believing in Santa was greater than the yield on questioning, so she was all in. Robin was sad but excited to share this secret with me, and from that year forward, we colluded on how to make Erin's Christmas perfect.
It should be noted that while Robin understood the Santa secret, she remained completely duped by Fredbird, the St. Louis Cardinal's mascot, awed by his ability to drive to her six-year-old birthday party with those giant bird feet.
My decision to confirm the truth about the Christmas myth for Robin was judged harshly. “Why would you ruin that for her so young?!” Or worse, the silent wide eyes and slow nod that left me wondering how many people would hear of my foible by noon the next day.
The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is loud. In addition to the crowded spaces, the internet is aflutter with advice on how to handle the holiday season. There seems to be universal agreement that this is a stressful time of year, so anyone that’s not trying to sell you something is either sharing images of how happy they are or advice on how to handle yourself.
If I could re-write the history that cultivated the holiday season, I would have Christmas first, with little build-up, like we currently do for Thanksgiving Day. Then the next four weeks would be the Thanksgiving season, grateful for all we received, have, and endured throughout the year.
I won't add to the advice on how to artfully, beautifully, mindfully, and gratefully enjoy the next few weeks. Instead, I will share my plan for the 2022 holiday season:
BE, Melissa. Let it all come. Watch it, feel it, make space for quiet, and keep moving your body. Get outside, look up, and breathe in. Your only job this season is to BE.