Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Very Merry Christmas, Indeed!

There are several important men in my life whom I love very much. One of them is Santa Claus.

Do I believe that one man, dressed in a red suit with white fur trim, races around the globe with his team of reindeer, delivering gifts to every child? Do I believe he comes down the chimney to deliver the goods? Do I believe he makes a list, checks it twice, knows who's naughty and who's nice? I don't. But... I absolutely believe in Santa Claus. And here is why.

"Oh, a rocket ship!! Santa brought me a rocket ship! Oh, how did he know???" were the excited shouts that greeted us Christmas morn, when Aidan went in to find the rocket ship sitting in his chair, waiting for him. He was practically crying with happiness, because in a conversation with Jeff several days earlier, he said that Santa would not bring him a rocket ship since he hadn't told Santa about wanting a rocket this year. Next year, he decided, he would ask Santa to bring him one.

Aidan's reaction was probably my favorite moment of the morning. He was filled with complete joy and delight, due to a gift that we had given him, through the magic of Santa Claus. That rocket ship would not have meant nearly as much to him had the gift tag read "From Mom and Dad"; the magic was that it came from the larger-than-life Kris Kringle, the omnipotent being who knew what Aidan wanted without him having to ask for it. And there's the gift that Santa Claus offers to me - the ability to anonymously give to our children some of their greatest gifts, without them knowing the true source.

While thinking about Santa Claus on Christmas morning, I realized that, in a strange way, we are actually giving quite a few gifts to our children right now, ones that they don't recognize as gifts from us but will hopefully recognize them later - and here's what I mean:

"No, Aidan, you may not have just cookies for dinner. Yes, Leo, we do have to wear shoes and coats and hats in the 30 degree weather. We will definitely watch more television - tomorrow, not today. And could you find a different way to ask me to help you with cleaning up those toys, using nicer words?"

Much of parenting is about giving gifts that may not be fully appreciated or understood until many years later. These are the gifts we give to our children, perhaps not anonymously like we do with rocket ships, but certainly in a way that is not initially seen as a gift from us. Just as Aidan doesn't recognize that I am his Santa, he also doesn't recognize that I am doing a good thing by insisting on him eating well, sleeping often, and behaving nicely.

Was that Mommy you saw kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe last night? You bet it was.... right after she reminded her children that it's not polite to point and stare.

1 comment:

Jeff Carter said...

Thank you for putting into words some of the thoughts I've been thinking this season! Merry Christmas Annie!