First of all, I can not hear that song without thinking about Staples and their Back to School ad.

This is not about that. I just had to acknowledge it because it is genius.  Thank you, Staples.  But where did you go?

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is the Christmas season, of course.

Nevermind that we are all stressed out of our minds trying to get everything done on time:  buying gifts, wrapping gifts, planning dinner, preparing dinner, the list continues.

Santa is not the only one with a list at Christmas time

Santa.  If Christmas was a video game, this character just brought it to another level.

If you have small children there is the added stress of Elf on the Shelf (I thank the Lord that I missed this particular brand of fun. I had a hard enough time remembering to stick the cloth gifts to the felt Advent calendar), hiding the gifts I bought until they could be wrapped, hiding myself away behind a locked door to wrap the gifts, shouting one excuse after another to the frantic knocks at the door with voices asking, “MOMMY, what are you doing? Can we come in?  Whats taking so long?”   And this happens at night, long after they should have been sleeping.

Santa Magic: giving children the gift of ESP from Black Friday to Christmas Day.

Of course it wouldn’t be Chrismas without the requisite visit to the above mentioned Santa.

Lets face it, this one is self inflicted. There is no one, two or three year old child that is chomping at the bit to sit on the lap of a stranger wearing a rented suit.  They have no idea what they’re in for.  And neither
do you.

Yet we stand in long mall lines so that we can get those Polaroid shots capturing  our childrens’ visits to Santa.  I realize that I may have dated myself just then, maybe the photos are digital now. It has been a couple of decades since I have plopped my children onto Santa’ s lap and turned my back on them to get out of the shot.

And I have some real doozies; screaming toddlers with tears and mucus streaming down their faces, extending their arms out to me pleading to be rescued. Oddly enough I ignored their screams because I knew they were safe even if they did not. The fact that they were terror-striken was temporary and would pass just as soon as Santa handed them a lollipop.

You gotta love those visits to Santa, it is the only time you hand your innocent child to a costumed stranger, allow them to sit on his lap, and actually encourage them to take candy from a stranger

I’m sure that you have some of those photos of your own, or are in the process of getting some.  It is a requirement, I mean tradition.  And as far as I know, there are no lasting I’ll-effects such as PTSD.

And once all of that has been done,  the final task is to make sure that you supply Santa with cookies and his reinde er with carrots. Hopefully your children choose a cookie/snack that you like.  Word of caution, if your child’s favorite snack is peanut butter and fluff between two strawberry pop tarts, make sure there is not a pop tart to be found in your home.

Then there is the pleasure of eating those snacks in the dark, after you are certain that those tiny eyelids are slammed shut. Good luck with that one. Where do you think the song, “I Saw Momy Kissing Santa Claus” came from?

Just in case you were considering throwing the Santa snacks in the trash – don’t. Those (pretending to be) sleeping cherubs are miniature Sherlock Holmeses.  They will find the evidence even before they open their first gift and your cover will be blown.

Even with all of the stress, thwarted plans, and Santa trauma, when it’s all said and done we look back at the photos and laugh and reminisce about the mishaps that happen every year:  burnt dinner rolls forgotten in the oven, the annual Christmas lights melt down, children trying to climb the tree, making dozens of home made chocolate lollipops for an epic Christmas party that happens to fall on the night of a blizzard and you drive 40 mile’s through the blizzard with your children – because it’s Christmas in New England after all, and nobody else shows up, or getting stuck at he gym on Christmas Eve because the key that starts your car has magically disappeared and you still have to go grocery shopping for Christmas dinner, and the store closes in an hour.

I’m pretty sure that last one has probably only ever happened to me.  But the point is our Christmas  foibles are common, yet unique, to each of us and become part of our Christmas lore.

What will make Christmas 2016 a lasting memory for you?  I can pretty much guarantee that it won’t be one gift in particular, but rather the gift of imperfection, and the reminder of what really matters and why we ev en bother with any of this in the first place.

The idea of Santa makes parents do things they don’t otherwise do, except for at Easter with the Easter Bunny, but that’s sort of another story.

We make Santa real for our children, and we go out of our way to keep this idea real to them for as long as we can, dreading the day that they no longer “believe.”

But we do it not because it is a lie, but rather, the greatest truth.

To believe in someone that watches over you,  knows when you have been “naughty” or “nice” and brings you what you asked for, or tries to anyway, is comforting and is really an introduction to the much more abstract concept of God and Jesus.

It’s all wonderful and terrifying.

The moment that we let go of Santa we take a huge leap of faith.  We become the terrified toddler on the lap of a stranger.  But our Father knows him and knows we have nothing to fear. And He does exactly what we did with our children. He offers us his Son, and and our Saviour, all the while knowing that a lot of fear, tears,and mucus will ultimately bring us peace.  We just have to trust Him, have faith, and BELIEVE!

Happy Birthday, Jesus, and Merry Christmas Everyone.

I wish you all the Blessings of the Season, in whatever form they appear.

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