Sunday, December 09, 2007

Is it Real?

Is it real? That is the question our four year old has been asking us often when she wakes up in the middle of the night and wanders into our room. The first night it happened, Jason, still half asleep and thinking she was talking about a dream she had just had, said, "No, it's not real." Wrong answer. Anna proceeded to ask hysterically, "It's not? It's not real?" to which Jason hastily replied, "Yes, yes it IS real," still having no idea what she was talking about. We just wanted her to calm down and go back to sleep. Two nights ago she asked the question again, and the next morning we finally got out of her that she is talking about the world, or more specifically, the experience she is experiencing at that exact moment she is asking the question. I guess that's why she was a little bothered when we were telling her that life was not real.

Now that we have cleared that little mystery up with Anna, her eight year old sister Elizabeth asked a different sort of "Is it real" question today on the way home from church. It was the question that I had been expecting and preparing an answer for, not knowing the exact time and place that it would be asked. She decided today was the day. "Mommy, I want to know if Santa Claus is real. And DON'T LIE TO ME!"

Let me back up a bit and give some added details to the story. Last year when wrapping up presents for the girls, we labeled all of Elizabeth's gifts to be from us except for one - the My Little Pony Magic Castle. This was the one present Elizabeth wanted and the one we said she couldn't have because it was too big and would take up too much space, and she would only play with it once or twice and then it would collect dust. So we decided that this special present would be the one from Santa. Elizabeth was excited when she opened up the present, but she was very perplexed that after being such a good girl all year, Santa only brought her one gift. It was one of those moments on Christmas morning where a little wind goes out of your sails as a parent because you have put time, energy, love, and yes money into this very special morning, and instead of hearing what a wonderful parent you are, you hear about what a cheapskate Santa is.

Determined not to let such a technicality put a damper on this Christmas, I asked Elizabeth before this shopping season began how many presents she thought Santa Claus brought really good girls. She said she thought really good girls would get 5 presents from Santa and 5 presents from their parents. I asked Anna the same question, and she said 1000 presents, so I went with Elizabeth's answer instead.

Since Elizabeth's Christmas list does not yet include expensive electronic items yet (I know my time is coming,) 10 presents seemed very doable for the budget, especially when a $2.50 set of earrings is still exciting. So gifts were bought, and last night I began to wrap. But I wanted to be strategic with the wrapping. She saw me wrapping other gifts with the wrapping paper I already had in the house, and she used some of it, too, to wrap her gifts. I was safe to use that wrapping paper on the gifts Jason and I got her, but it would take special wrapping paper to distinguish which gifts were from "Santa." Then comes the labeling of the gifts. I can't use our tags and my handwriting to say, "To Elizabeth, From Santa." So I thought I would go to Wal-Mart after church today, buy some special Santa wrapping paper, and then get a big "E" and "A" stamp to stamp all over the wrapping paper that covered the gifts from Santa (Good Housekeeping idea.)

After church Jason dropped me off at the door of Wal Mart and stayed in the car with the girls. I headed inside, got two rolls of wrapping paper, and headed toward the craft section for the stamps. The only letter stamps they had were in packs of all 26 letters and numbers 1-10 for $9.99. I'm all about playing Santa, but this Santa is too cheap to pay $9.99 for these stamps. I decided I could figure out another way to label the presents, so I checked out without the stamps and got in the car (being oh so careful to hide my newly purchased wrapping paper.) As I closed the door, Jason gave me a smile and said, "Elizabeth has a question, and I told her we would wait until you got back before we answered it." And thus, out came the question I had anticipated and mentioned above.

After sidestepping the question valiantly by asking what she thought and what her friends thought and why was she asking me this, I finally gave in and truthfully answered her questions. We talked about St. Nicholas many years ago and the tradition of gift giving and how Moms and Dads really give all of the gifts but it's still fun to pretend. Just to make sure she understood, she said, "So you are saying that when I grow up and become a mom, if I don't put presents under the tree, then there won't be any presents for my kids?" I guess she got it.

She seemed fine with the truth. In fact she asked if this year she could eat the cookies we set out. I don't know why I expected tears or disappointment - I can't remember when I learned "the truth," and I still remember playing along, even well into my teen years when my parents would still give me gifts from not only Santa but Rudolph and the elves as well.

And little Anna - well she was in the car during the whole conversation but I don't think she was even paying attention. We'll play along for her until she figures it out, too, and then we will probably still play along even after that. It's just fun. Both kids already know why we really celebrate Christmas, and I think they get (or will get in the future) that the whole gift giving thing is really just another expression of love.

And I am really glad now that I didn't buy those stamps.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've shared this with many people here at IWU--lots of positive comments, one being that you really are a writer! I think you should "publish this one somewhere."

December 11, 2007 3:18 PM  
Blogger Jim and Jaena said...

I love your posts, deb. they make me smile and laugh, and I can actually picture the events as you describe them. Sorry about the loss of the Santa dream for Elizabeth. She's pretty sharp, so I wonder how long it would have been even without the SS prompting.

December 16, 2007 1:15 PM  
Blogger Marcia said...

Even in a house with a 12yo as the "baby of the family," we choose to believe in Santa!

BTW, Santa labels gifts at our house with big initials in glitter glue.

December 16, 2007 8:45 PM  
Blogger Vickie said...

Deb, Hey this is Vickie from church I lead worship in Splash with Jil. Occasionally I read your post and enjoyed this latest one about telling the truth about Santa. I wanted to share another blog I ran across that shared the same story. I don't know this lady but I think she has an interesting blog and it lead me to the Proverbs 31 Blog too. I hope you enjoy reading her story. I also want to tell you that I so enjoy Elizabeth in Splash. Her worship in singing is an inspiration to me! Here's the blog:
Enjoy! Merry Christmas

December 22, 2007 7:19 PM  

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