Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas Eve Eve (or Whatever)

I hear you say 'Why?' Always 'Why?'
You see things; and you say 'Why?'
But I dream things that never were; and I say 'Why not?'

-- Serpent, Back To Methuselah, by George Bernard Shaw

Today, Christmas began in earnest for our family. We've been preparing for this for the last few weeks and, to be honest, we're actually in pretty good shape this year. (Last year, we were wrapping presents until 3:00 am on the 25th.) At this point, everything's wrapped and it's all execution from here on in.

It's been a wild day. We had a few last minute things to pick up, so we braved the mall traffic (and parking) to try to find them at a local Target store. We found most of what we needed (and more that we didn't know others needed, but more on that later). DD was with her other parents, so we had to drive out to pick her up. I drove JP and DD back home, did a few chores that needed doing, headed out to pick up Kara for Christmas Eve (which is our time with her this year), and then drove out to another Target to pick up one (or two) final presents we didn't find at the first store.

Once I got home with Kara, I needed to run to the grocery store for a few last minute comestibles (including cookies to bake for Santa). When I got back, I cleaned watercolor stains from the carpet because Kara had spilled while working on her present to JP. That done, I needed to vaccuum up the pine needles and put out the tree skirt (so we could put Kara's presents out this evening). Now, JP finished 90% of her wrapping yesterday. Me? I procrastinated and kept trying to find some time to wrap her gifts while doing everything else that needed doing. I was nearly finished with it when it was time to open the traditional Christmas Eve presents (which we did a day early because it's when we're all together).

The traditional C.E. presents for the kids are Christmas pajamas. This year, DD decided I needed a new pair of PJ's, so now JP and I are part of the tradition...except I didn't have time to find her a set of PJ's. I had, however, picked out an ornament for her and used that instead.

Anyway, the PJ's were opened and modeled (DD's having been purchased just this morning, during the first Target run). DD loves the "new" Charlie's Angels and was hamming up for the camera, posing with her fingers held like a cocked pistol. Oh, I may have hammed up a little too. (But only a little. ;-))

And, yes, Kara gets her presents in the morning, which is Christmas Eve Day. I told her that Santa knows that some children have two families to spend Christmas with these days, so he makes special trips for those children who'd been especially good throughout the year and leaves some presents at the other parents' home so they can share in the joy. Of course, her response was shocked; her eyes got big and she asked, "You know Santa Claus? The real Santa?" I tried to minimize it by saying I had sent a letter, but she started happily singing, "My Daddy knows Santa Claus. My Daddy knows Santa Claus." I'm just waiting for her to tell DD and frantically trying to invent a cover story when the inevitable happens.

So, Kara gets to open presents tomorrow morning (which also gives her some time to play with them before going back to her mother's). As a result, we negotiated a reasonable waking time (7:00 am) and then prepared reindeer food. Yes, reindeer food. You know, something for the tired reindeer to snack on while they wait for Santa to fill the stockings and leave the loot, er, presents.

Reindeer food, by the way, should be a packet of flavored oatmeal mixed with green and red sugar crystals. (Some recipes call for glitter, but that's made of foil and therefore environmentally unfriendly. Besides, you can use a hose to melt the sugar.) Because the sugar crystals are in Christmas colors, they sparkle in response to Santa's Christmas magic when he flies his overhead in his sleigh. In turn, this tells the reindeer where to land and find munchies.

At least, that's what I've told the girls. And, as Dennis Miller used to say on Saturday Night Live, "That's my story and I'm sticking to it."

And, yes, as soon as I post this, I'm heading outside to sweep up the reindeer food in an attempt to add a bit of truthiness to the story.

Look, they're children. They believe in magic. They deserve to see magical things.

I take it as a personal responsibilty to find ways to let them continue to believe, whether Christmas magic or just the everyday magic of truly caring for another soul, for as long as possible. It's the only kind of genuine magic I can teach them.

I know we're playing a little fast and loose with the legends. To me, that's okay. What's important is that we believe in something beyond ourselves and our direct experience, that we believe our actions can make a difference. If, to teach my children that magic can be real and can truly happen, I have to use a few theatre tricks, well, I'll do it and follow it up with the reasons behind the beliefs.

Think of it as improvisational parenting. (Which some may call an oxymoron. Having seen parents that do not improvise, I disagree. But, as my friend Tim says, I disgress.)

It's kind of like the idea in the movie The Polar Express. I want my girls to hear the sleigh bell jingle for years to come. And I want their faith in some form of magic, especially the kind we make ourselves, to last beyond the inevitable awareness of "the truth about Santa" and the other little cuts of reality ahead of them. And, faithfully believing that magic can be created, I hope they find ways to help their children find the same experience.

As long as there is faith, magic can exist. As long as there is life, there is love. And we all know that magic, true magic, flows from love. If we can create a world filled with magic and with love, what a wonderful world it would be (with apologies to Mr. Armstrong).

However you celebrate this time of year, I wish you peace, happiness, and comfort. As my Jewish friends say, "La'chaim" (For life)!



Blogger Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

I love the magic we both instill in our children ... you are blessing to our family.
Much love, JP

11:22 PM  
Blogger THE Michael said...

Do you believe in Magik
in a young kid's heart
when there needs to be a Santa
and parents play the part are a good father, dude.

Merry Christmas

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Parisparfait said...

I always think of Robert F. Kennedy when I see that quote - it was one of his favourites and he quoted it frequently. Sounds like you and yours had a wonderful magical Christmas!

12:56 PM  

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