This past June I was driving by the mall with my preschooler.... "Hey Mom," he said. "Know who lives there?" So I start, "Calvin Klein, J Crew, Mr. Macy's...", but I knew what he was going to say... "Nope, Santa Claus! Santa lives there! I sat on his lap with Grandma, remember? We brought you a picture. He promised me the toys I wanted," I snickered, "Oh he did, did he?" but the monkey was steadfast, "Yup, and he was right, I got all the stuffs."
He was right, Santa got him all the "stuffs" and I was really happy that he, his brothers and his cousins, were able to celebrate the joy and wonder that is the holiday season. Once you have kids it becomes even more important for it to be all about them. Making sure they are taken care of mentally and physically is what we do as loving parents to the best of our ability all year round. But to a 3-year-old, holidays are all about the "stuffs" as he puts it eloquently.
The craziest party of this situation is that I am Jewish and I've married a Roman Catholic man. We are the epitome of what a mixed faith marriage is. Our kids are being raised Jewish, because I am a Jew and it's all I know. But we also celebrate the large Catholic holidays together, as a family, because we love and respect each other and our kids should be educated in the ways of our religion from both sides.
We celebrate Chanukah because we love it and it is part of our faith but you don't get the "good stuffs" for Chanukah. For Chanukah you get 8 nights of socks, and underwear and school supplies. Last year we tried to spice it up with iTunes credits and video games but we played it all wrong as we hid the cards in shirts and dress pants. I know, Santa would have flown to the house with his reindeer in tow and bestowed gifts like a rapper making it rain at a titty bar. We screwed that up royally. What we did was more like Hanukkah Harry. And Hanukkah Harry ain't nothin' if you're not Jon Lovitz with a thin grey beard.
Hey, we tried. But try as we might to get the kids pumped about Chanukah the way they were about Christmas was just a joke.
"Look kids we had oil that was only supposed to last for 1 day but instead burned for 8 brilliant nights!"
"But Mommy, you just helped us hang a huge beautiful tree with halogen lights that will last longer than you. And they twinkle on and off and they have magical color changing proprieties because they are made with fiber-optics!"
The kids are right, "Eat that Maccabees." I was completely smitten with my children's reaction to the holiday season. Who cares if Santa kicks everyone's ass? He does. He really, really, does. But then, the unthinkable happened.
My 11-year-old nephew started to ask the holiday question that every parent dreads... "Is Santa real?" Initially, his parents started out with the legit, parental answers, " Of course he's real. You get the toys don't you? You told him what you wanted." But nephew was too old for that shit this year, and he wasn't about to back down. He hounded and hounded and mentally broke his mother who finally had nothing else to say but, "Okay, you really wanna know? No, Santa Claus is not real. Your Father and I leave those presents for you. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?"
Come to find out, nephew was not happy. He couldn't believe he'd been scammed and lied to all those years. He wanted to get to the bottom of this shit and promptly Face-timed his Grandparents (my in-laws). When they answered that call they found a sobbing 11-year-old yelling at them... "How could you?" he shirked... "How could we what?" the poor things had no idea nephew had been let in on the adult lie that is Santa Claus. "How could you make me sit on a complete strangers lap and tell him all the toys I wanted? He could have been a crazy man, a psycho? And you made me tell him .... 'secrets.' "
Lighting some candles and getting some socks seems a lot less innocuous now.