I need to wean myself and my kids off of Christmas.
We woke up this morning and the radio stations were back to playing their usual garbage. ABC Family went back to playing “How I Met Your Mother” all day.
It’s like everyone pretends yesterday never happened.
But it’s all just too fast for me. I prefer Christmas to fade out in a slow burn.
I always let the kids leave their presents under the tree for a few days. I like to watch them play with their things before they just become more stuff I have to pick up and put away. Before all the pieces get lost in the abyss of the playroom. Before they are simply trampled under the stampede of little feet running around this house.
I still like to snuggle with the kids on the couch, watch Christmas specials on DVR and gorge ourselves with Christmas cookies.
I’m still secretly hoping it will snow.
I’m not ready for it all to be over.
As I wrote the Elf on the Shelf’s goodbye letter this year, I cried just like I do every year. Not because I would miss having to move that Godforsaken thing, but because it symbolized another year under our belts. Next year is another chance that we will have a non-believer in the house. And that just hurts my heart.
I love that the kids race down the stairs to find the elf in the morning. I love that Henry and Tallulah ask all day, “Where’s Runny?” and then giggle when they rediscover his (extremely unimaginative) location. I love the boys’ questions about the logistical probability of Santa. I love when they open the present that they really, really wanted and squeal, “thank you, Santa!”
When parenthood came with a Santa suit, I immediately started dreading the day the truth would unravel his threads. Being Santa is one of the greatest joys of parenthood. Keeping his secret is one of the hardest, but most rewarding lies I’ve ever told. Charlie, who is in third grade, seemed on the fence this year. A fifth grade neighbor planted the seed on the way to the bus stop one day, but Charlie never said anything about it. I’ve been dreading the conversation. I’ve been preparing for it; worried about how to let him in on the secret without making him feel duped.
I don’t remember how old I was when I found out, but I remember having trouble accepting it. I thought Santa still came for other kids, just not for me. For me, Santa was my parents, but he still came for other kids. Because I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around his utter nonexistence.
I was heartbroken.
I’m just not ready for that heartbreak for them.
Santa doesn’t overindulge my kids. He is not about fulfilling their every wish. His spirit is more than that. His spirit is more than just one day.
As I walked around to check on each child on Christmas eve, their usual sweet faces looked especially angelic. I knew they were dreaming of magic. And you just can’t replace that feeling. I’m not ready for Christmas’ magic to be over.
For them or me.