Monday, December 29, 2008

Merry Christmas

That foot and a half of lovely white fluffy snow has given way to slushy, gray, grass-patchy rain soaked gloominess. At least the Christmas decorations are still up to give a little hint of cheer. We did actually see the sunshine yesterday afternoon for a brief, but delightful, few hours. Did you know that Muskegon is the cloudiest city in the United States? It's also the bowling capital of the U.S., with more lanes per capita than any other city, but, let's face it, that does not make up for the lack of Vitamin D.
Christmas was wonderful. It was the first year that Frankie actually understood what we were celebrating, and why it is such good news that Jesus was born. She knows that the story is so much more than a new baby. But lets not kid ourselves, she also knew that it meant we exchanged presents to celebrate. That was, I am afraid, more than the news of the possibility of her salvation, what excited her the most.
We faced a conundrum about Santa Claus this year. I grew up believing Santa was the chubby incarnation of worldly greed and spiritual blindness to the true meaning of the season, all wrapped up in fuzzy red velvet and jingle bells. Consequently, we've never really mentioned Santa to Frankie, preferring to concentrate on the Nativity lest we confuse her totally. Jesus, wrapped in cloths with donkeys around Him- REAL! Santa, fat and jolly and carrying presents- FAKE! Wise men- REAL! Elves- FAKE! But this year, Frankie looked at me sadly and announced "Santa is pretend, right?" Yup, I answered. "But, I want him to be real," she moaned. She was under the impression that her present count would be diminished if Santa wasn't real, since everyone else she talked to wanted to know what she was hoping Santa would bring her. So, we compromised and decided to PRETEND that Santa WASN'T pretend, so that he could bring her multiple presents. She was satisfied with this arrangement.
So on Christmas morning, she opened lots of books from Goodwill from Santa (what a cheapskate) and a Diesel 10 wooden train from her loving parents. She has been wanting this particular train for months and months now. So when she opened her first present, the biggest most festive one that she had been eyeing for some weeks now, she found, not Diesel 10, though he was buried more deeply under the tree, but a little wooden railroad oil station that I had found at TJMaxx for three bucks. She thanked us, played with it for a few minutes, then started to head upstairs, saying, "I'm going to go play with my trains now." The look of relief that spread over her face when we stopped her and said there were more presents to open made us realize that she had thought that was all she was getting, and, well, it was not the Diesel 10 that she had been longing for, but darn it, she was going to make the best of it. Sometimes that kid breaks my heart.


Crystal said...

What a sweet story!!! Our kids know the truth about Santa as well, but we talk about the true story of St. Nicholas. We also have to remind them each year to not share with other sweet unsuspecting children that "Santa's not real" : ) you are an amazing Mommy!!!!! We sure had fun with you today!!! Why don't we plan that weekly or biweekly? God Bless you today~

Nathan Thompson said...

Oh yeah, that's one of the things I love about Orthodoxy. St. Nicholas is actually the patron saint of Russia. The Russians love him, so we tell our kids, Santa Claus is based on St Nicholas. Of course we have a relic (a bone chip)of St Nicholas at the Monastery attached to my seminary. On St Nicholas Day, we have a seminarian dress up like St Nick and give out candy to the kids, one of the older kids asked "how is that St Nicholas if we just venerated his relics?" Doh!