Friday, December 19, 2008

Here Comes Santa Claus

I was struck by a post over at Autism Vox earlier this week, called Santa Can Wait, in which Kristina mulls over the fact that her pre-teen son Charlie has never sat on Santa's lap. Malls were potential meltdown triggers, and her son never did "get into" imaginary characters. Besides, she reminds herself, she'd just have to eventually reveal that Santa is really Mom & Dad anyway...

Well, Joy has never sat on Santa's lap either. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I ever did myself, until I was an adult (and I don't believe there's any photographic evidence of that occasion, probably just as well.)

In my case, it just wasn't the family tradition. In Joy's case, the busy-ness of the mall isn't the issue, nor is particularly problematic for her to go snuggle with a stranger (yipe). I think she did get a visit from Santa at daycare one year, in fact.

Alas, the reason that Joy has never sat on Santa's lap can be directly traced to her sister.

Here's what happened on our first attempt to take Rose to see the mall Santa, at the age of 10 months:

Rose Objects to Santa
The next year we discussed it, and she seemed to have at least an interest in Santa-visiting, though she asserted, "I don't like his ho-ho-ho!" So we got her all dressed up, and went to the mall to be early in line when Santa was to arrive. She waited with minimal twitching and fuss, right up until she heard him walking down the mall, jingling his bells, and (of course) booming a jolly "Ho, ho, ho!" Meltdown before he even got seated. We stepped out of line and made our escape. After she calmed down I got her to pose with a much less threatening Santa statue further down the mall, only four feet tall:

Rose Prefers Her Santa Fake
So that's why we never went back, and it hardly seemed worth it to take just Joy.

Interesting wrinkle this year: back in November, Rose decided to write a letter to Santa. She carefully wrote out a few modest requests, including a request or two on Joy's behalf. Then she folded it up, wrote out the envelope to Santa at the North Pole, carefully including her real return address as she'd learned in school. I almost didn't post it... but then rather thought that there'd been enough prevarications about the whole Santa thing, and wanted to tell the truth that yes, Rose, I actually did mail it for real.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and Rose puts the pieces together. Santa's not real, is he? Mom and Dad stuff the stockings (and eat the cookies, and drink the milk, and consume Rudolph's carrot!) When she asked it straight out, we copped to the truth. But when we asked if she still wanted to play the game, she absolutely wanted to get her stocking filled. Quick on the uptake, this girl!

Fast forward again to yesterday, and Rose gets a letter in the mail. Return address: Santa Claus, North Pole. And inside is a computer-printed poem from Santa about how he'll try to make her Christmas happy, but she has to promise to be good! And then there was a handwritten "Santa" signature, and one-sentence postscript about how nice it was that she included her sister in the letter...

I wish I knew what was going through her head about this whole thing! We didn't point out the hometown postmark. But it's pretty clear that Mom & Dad didn't write the letter. We were too obviously gobsmacked when it arrived!

Meanwhile, Joy too has received a lovely pre-Christmas surprise, in her case from one of the members of her large circle of support:

A Gift for Joy
The photo doesn't do it justice! It's a little shadowbox that she hand-decorated for Joy, with a bunny in the "box" part (referring to our pet bunnies) and the "Joy" at the top and a tiny rose on the heart in the lower left corner in honor of the big sister.

Thank you, Santa, so very much!


Anonymous said...

Beautiful! (Story and the box)

mama edge said...

I used to absolutely love to sit in Santa's lap - I'd sit on his lap, then go to the end of the line and sit again.

My boys? Not so much. Rocky told Santa he smelled bad, and Taz tried to pull his beard off.

Interesting that Rose wrote the letter the same year she decided Santa wasn't real. Has the return response shaken her disbelief system?

P.S. My word verification is "fistinab" -- sounds like something I'd like to do to the Turd.

Anonymous said...

so fabulous that someone had the heart and took the time to read her letter and post back! i so adore this time of year when acts of kindness trump all the petty crap in our lives.

and the shadow box? beautiful - so incredibly thoughtful!

our own santa letter(s) coming on monday ... stay tuned

Anonymous said...

I was always terrified of Santa too.

What a gorgeous gift that shadow box is! Lovely!

Anonymous said...

When each of Rose's cousins, here, came to the realization that Santa may not exist in the way they thought, I found that they 1)still wanted to believe because they liked to and because they didn't want to lose out on their Santa gifts, and 2)they did go back and forth a bit about what they believed since there were still the occasional "unexplainable" events. We usually managed to continue the Santa belief for that one more holiday, "with a grain of salt" on their part. But, by the next holiday, I would ask them to please do a VERY IMPORTANT job...keep the secret from the younger siblings! It was their great responsibility to make sure that their younger sister and brothers could still enjoy the belief. And, that way, of course, they were reassured that they would still receive Santa gifts (just in order to continue the belief of the younger ones, of course!!). Well, when it came time for Rose's youngest cousin (who is now 12 1/2 yrs old), I actually used Rose as the reason for him to carry on the belief!! LOL! I explained to him how important it was that he not spoil it for his younger cousin. He did take his responsibility seriously! LOL! Maybe Rose would like to have this job, also, of keeping up the fun and belief for Joy and other friends and family who are younger. But, I will warn you that you might end up with Santa still delivering gifts even when Rose is the age of her cousin KJ!! LOL!

Casdok said...

A beautiful shadow box.

How wonderful for Santa to write back!

C has never been anywhere near Santa! And not sure that i have sat on his lap either?

Anonymous said...

Can't let ARatK get ahead of me here....

To sit or not to sit on Santa's lap is all over the parent blogs. Some traditions die hard, or never.

Very revealing when parents share their own stories of Santa's lap. I saw a recent post where the Mom, who sat on the opposite knee to get child to it, all but accused Santa of being a dirty old man.

We went for Santa-is symbolic-of-giving, and gave the Real Reason to ManChild when he was young. Younger Teen was a bit tearful to find out Santa truth 'round the age of 5.

I read a blog a couple of weeks ago by a mother whose child outed Santa at preschool. And yesterday I saw this post on explaining Christmas to a child in a home without religion.

Culturally fascinating, a bit. Is the verification word a blog-culture phenomenon now? Mine is whilai. If this is a word I would not like to use, please to not tell me. No way I'm gonna use it again.

Barbara aka therextras