Monday, December 20, 2010

The Man with the Bag

Our Santa Claus
Clementine and Our Cow (I mean CAT!) Sidda with Santa
One evening before Halloween, I happened to find a vintage, plastic Santa Claus in a Good Will.  He stands about four feet tall and is meant to be used as an outdoor decoration, lit from within by a standard-sized lightbulb.  At the time, I gave no thought to what I might do with him; I just knew I wanted him.  I lugged him out to the van, and Jim laughed and told me he'd seen Santa moving through the store and had believed him to be an actual person (albeit a small one) dressed in Santa garb.  And here is Reason #423 that I Love My Husband: Jim did not ask why in the world I had purchased such a thing, but, instead, saw the non-monetary value of Santa right away and was thrilled to learn he had become ours for less than seven dollars.

Santa has been on or beside our hearth ever since.  Even before he came to live with us, Jim and I had told Clementine that Santa would bring her a baby doll if she were a good girl, so she was glad to see him.  She hugs him once a day, or so, and sometimes she touches the open sack he holds and says: "Toys. Baby."

Tonight, after Clementine went to bed, I said to Jim: "You know, it's almost Christmas, and we haven't lit Santa up, yet."  So Jim unscrewed the back of Santa and replaced the bulb, and--lo and behold, when plugged into the wall--he lit up with an almost unbelievable brightness.  I suggested we wait to plug him up, again, until Christmas morning and stand him beside Clementine's new play kitchen.

Within an hour of Jim's and my contriving Santa magic for Clementine, Cade and I were standing in the kitchen when I asked him what happened to the tooth he lost most recently.  He responded that he'd forgotten it in his pants pocket, and I remarked: "You're growing up, aren't you, Buddy."  He assured me of his belief in the Tooth Fairy but confessed to being unsure about the existence of Santa, and I felt in my spirit that it was the right time in which to have the difficult Santa/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy conversation.  So I asked him to forgive my white lies and explained that parents make up such things to bring joy into their children's lives.  I told him I remember feeling disappointed when I learned the truth about Santa but promised that, over time, I have come to find Christmas just as exciting as before because I concentrate on God's profound love in sending His Son to us, family and togetherness, and creating Santa-magic for others.  We cried together, and I offered to let him stay up late Christmas Eve in order to help Jim assemble Clementine's play kitchen.

I find it a little bizarre to begin Santa magic with one child while ending it with another, and I guess I'm not completely sure I've done right by either of them.  All I know is: the Santa lie is one for which I've completely forgiven my parents, and I'm pretty sure I'm glad I believed in Santa once upon a time...

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