I was never a fan of Christmas. Actually, I remember hating Christmas most of my first two-and-a-half decades on earth. Look, I know hating what feels like the most beloved holiday is not a hot take. I’m not trying to be some hipster or a Grinch – or a hipster-Grinch.
Unfortunately it’s deep-rooted personal reasons for me. Reasons best left out of this blog for now.
I’ve been fortunate however and, much like the Grinch, I’ve changed over the last decade-and-a-half. Most of the credit goes to my wife, Angela – and having two children over this period of time didn’t hurt either. Angela goes all-in on Christmas, she’s never lost that childlike wonder that makes this time of year so much fun.
Which brings me to the subject of this week’s post.
Just after Thanksgiving we were walking the dogs as a family when my youngest son, Charlie, started asking questions about Santa. Now, he is 11 so we kind of assumed he already new the “secret,” as he called it. His line of questioning seemed to confirm that he already knew. Even admitting that travelling around the world and delivering billions of presents in a single day is impossible.
In reality, he was simply looking for confirmation.
I was ready to give him the hard truth, but Angela jumped in and asked whether he wanted to know the secret or not.
He looked nervous and said, “Yes.”
Who could blame him for such indecision? This is a big moment in a child’s life.
Angela explained that sometimes it’s fun to believe and pretend. That even if something isn’t real, it can still be fun. It was at that point when Charlie mad the decision to know the truth. He was ready to know the secret – but not until after Christmas.
In my sometimes too cynical brain the most obvious reason I thought of for him not wanting to know is the unnerving thought that if he learns the truth, the presents might dry up. But that was my thought, not his. As is often the case with children, we don’t give them enough credit.
With Charlie it had nothing to do with presents. It is all about the traditions we’ve built for Christmas Eve – or rather the traditions he’s built. Mind you, it’s nothing spectacular, but it fits in with who we are as a family.
On Christmas Eve morning Charlie and Elijah wake up to find the computer with Fred, their Elf on a Shelf, sitting at the computer with NORAD Santa Tracker already running.
We have fish for dinner, attend a Unitarian Universalist service, open small gifts from each other – which always includes pajamas for our boys – and watch Christmas movies until we’re too tired to stay awake.
It’s quiet, simple and relaxing. Just the way we like it.