One of those holidays that comes around every year.
December 31, 2012

Christmas at the beach!  (She found a crab shell!)

At some point in November, Charlotte came home from preschool with a laundry list of questions about Pere Noel (Father Christmas).  I answered them as patiently and honestly as possible, which is to say that I spent quite a lot of time deflecting the questions by saying things like “Does Santa really wear a cape of reindeer fur?  That’s an interesting question, sweetheart, and I don’t know the answer.  What do you think?”

Worked. Like. A. Charm.

On a more serious note, though, all of those questions about Pere Noel really shook things up in our home because Donald and I have never done anything to celebrate Christmas (or any other winter holiday), not really.

We have never decorated the house or told our daughter about Santa Claus or strung up lights.  We have never busted out carols or mailed cards.  We have never exchanged gifts or bought a tree or done an advent.  We have never really taken the time to set up any standing traditions.  The two of us are practically Scrooge-incarnate, but somehow we wound up with a little girl who was (and this is a rough estimate) 450% enthralled by the idea of Christmas.

Us: “Eh, let’s just skip Christmas again this year.”

Charlotte: “Flying reindeer!  Gingerbread cookies!  Wrapping paper!  A right jolly old elf!  Cocoa!  Jingle bells!”

So we sucked it up and tried to find ways to celebrate because we knew she would love it.  We started by setting out Charlotte’s shoes on St. Nicholas Day (she woke up to our family collection of holiday books and a playdate at the aquarium) and three weeks later on Christmas Day we spent some time at the beach feeding the seagulls and picking up trash, something my family has done all my life.  And in between we made pine needle crowns and told holiday stories and lit candles and let Charlotte run around the house with a basket full of noisy-ass jingle bells rattling off every line of “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” which, naturally, she memorized after the 7,493rd reading.

For the record, I have found her memorization of books to be phenomenally torturous.  It’s bad enough that I’ve read these books frequently enough for them to BE memorized by both of us in the first place, but then she goes around performing them for every pair of unsuspecting ears she sees.  So now I’m subjected to listening to these books at places like the grocery store which were previously sanctuaries from children’s literature.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m proud of Charlotte’s capacity to recite stories she’s familiar with.  It’s just that a woman can only take so much Dr. Seuss before her brain implodes.  But I digress.

The point is that as the month of December comes to a close, I still feel just a little bit like we let Charlotte down.  We never did decorate the house or buy a tree or mail out cards.  We never bought a tree or strung up lights or went caroling.  We couldn’t even successfully manage to explain how an advent calendar worked.

But we tried.  We at least laid the foundation for some solid family traditions in the future – and Charlotte had a blast in the process.

When it gets right down to it, I guess a mother can’t really ask for anything more.

** Charlotte is three years and five months old.  Evie is seven weeks old.

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  1. By on December 31, 2012

    My husband and I were both very Scroogy, but having kids has really changed that. We considered skipping snta, but really, what’s the difference between Santa or any other story of magic and wonder (fairies, trolls, etc) that we tell our kids? Whether its real or make believe or some unknown line between the two. We too are still setting our traditions in stone 4 Christmases in, but things are starting to become more predictable for us.

    My son understands that Santa only brings one present so he doesn’t expect a mountain. We leave out the part about naughty and nice (I’d recommend ‘the Christmas magic’ - a book about Santa that is perfect in my opinion one line saying something about Santa loving all the kids… And never making mention of the good and bad list), and we fill their stockings. We always cut down a tree at a friends tree farm,  my older son loves decorating it, searching through the ornaments, hanging the stockings, etc. We visit a local house that does it all up with lights. We skip heavy decorations and light on our house, but we’ve thought about them in the future. We always throw a solstice party for friends where we do a small gift exchange and every one brings a dish and in general we celebrate the end of the year and our friends and family and being together… Because really, that’s what it’s all about. The rest is fluff. I think what makes me particularly open to the idea of Santa is that my oldest doesn’t seem consumed by the idea of presents. He’s just as happy with the decoration and anticipation as he is with the rest of it.

  2. By Sarah Christensen on December 31, 2012

    Okay, admittedly we kept Santa out of the holidays this year.  When we tell her stories about trolls and fairies and dragons, we always tell her that they are fiction - that some people believe in them, but that mostly they’re just fun to imagine and that we don’t believe them to be real.  And we told her the same about Santa.  We explained that he is a historical figure and told her stories about the saint and read a book called “Santa Who?“ to her, etc, and then explained that it’s okay to believe in Santa but that we just like to imagine him and have fun with the story, etc.

    It would have totally worked except that we didn’t give that memo to my relatives and they laid Santa on thick =)  Oh well!  She’s at least having fun with it!

  3. By missjoules on January 01, 2013

    We thought we could get away with another year of not even mentioning Santa over here, and we did really, but the second we walked into my SIL’s house every adult came out of the woodwork to ask Robin what Father Christmas had brought him.

    Have you said anything to Charlotte about not telling other children that Santa isn’t real? I think my biggest worry is that Robin will upset other kids.

  4. By Sarah Christensen on January 01, 2013

    Yeah, we told her it’s important to let other people believe what they want to believe and it’s important not to tell other kids that Santa is just a story.

    I don’t think we really have to worry about it this year because she doesn’t understand yet the difference between truth and fiction.  Next year it might be harder!

  5. By Cheryl Walsh on January 02, 2013

    Lovely pictures of your family! Keep it up.





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