It's beginning to look at lot like Christmas. I got a little over excited this year and decorated the day before Thanksgiving. Well, almost. We got the living room set up and the first tree up. We put up the second tree last night and today, if I ever get my room clean, I'll put up the last tree. Yeah, we like to decorate for Christmas in our house.
We've been in holiday mode for a while now though. A couple week before Thanksgiving, we were at the mall and Santa happened to be there for pictures. We weren't planning on it but there was no line, the kids were in a good mood and so we though, "Why not?" Another surprise experience. Our son, purposely anti social (it's all an act... he likes the attention it gets him...) saw Santa and acted like he'd found his long lost best friend. He climbed right up next to him and started chatting away. Blew my mind. He NEVER does that. Our oldest, the one who is usually delightfully talkative to strangers, clammed up and didn't say a word. Our youngest, at nearly one and a half, cracked me up. She sat on Santa's lap with the most serious expression on her face. Like she decided she had to put on some tough girl act and didn't want every one to know that deep down inside, her inner child was elated to see the man in red. Her comically thick eyebrows made it even funnier. Thankfully, the photographer was a pro at dealing with kids that refuse to smile and she managed to get a crack of one out of her.
After leaving Santa, we made the mistake of explaining the nice/naughty list thing with the kids. For starters, they're now constantly asking if they're on the nice list. Really, if there was such a thing, most of the time, they'd be on the naughty list! Then, while explaining the list, we had to explain that Santa "sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good..." You know the rest. THIS freaked out our oldest. The idea of a strange bearded man is something that she's having a hard time comfortably wrapping her head around. We're going to the The Elf on the Shelf with the kids for the first time this year. Think she'll be even more freaked out knowing that Santa has sent an elf to constantly keep an eye on them? Yeah. This could end badly. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Next, we've got the issue of the identity of Baby Jesus. We are constantly reminding the kids that Christmas isn't about getting gifts and Santa and all the rest of the hoopla. They are very aware that Christmas is Jesus' birthday and that's the real reason why we're celebrating. We've even discussed what gifts they can give Him that'll make Him happy (my favorite is obedience to your parents). However, something I'm having a hard time explaining is who exactly Joseph is. I made the kids set up the Nativity with me (more like made them watch since I got tired of gluing heads back on the Wise Men last year). While setting it up, we talked about the Christmas story and who was who and where they came from and what role they played. I don't know how or when I finally came to understand it all when I was a kid but my oldest just isn't getting the whole "Joseph was Mary's husband but not Jesus' Daddy" thing. I guess I can understand why it's confusing to a kid who has no complete concept of multiple parents or theology or deity. But I just can't seem to explain it in a way that she understands. I think it may be just the way her brain works... (Me: Alex, get a grip. Alex: *looking around confused* Where's a grip, Mom?... understand what I'm saying?).
Then we've got Saint Scrooge. We packed boxes for Operation Christmas Child this year. It's something we did as kids in my home and I wanted my kids to do it too in hopes for them to understand that giving to others who don't have anything is important, that the world is bigger than they are and that just as God gave to us, it is good for us to give to those in need. I let them help pick out what we packed and then they made cards to put in the boxes and they helped pack them. This whole thing resonated with my three year old son. The other day, I had one of those "proud mommy moments" until it turned into a weird "my son is a Scrooge" moment. He's got a Tonka truck that's big enough to ride in if he wanted to. A couple day ago, he took a bunch of his toys (and a few of his sisters') and was pushing it around saying that he was delivering his toys to kids that didn't have any. Made my heart melt (which started leaking out my eyes somehow...). I was touched that my son would play at giving to others. That even when he had a chance to be doing whatever he wanted to do, he was pretending to take care of others. His younger sister walks up to take her baby doll out of the truck and he screams at her. When I asked what was wrong, he responded that "she can't have these toys! I put her on the naughty list!" Awesome, Scrooge. Awesome. He also told me the other day that he wanted Santa for Christmas. When I asked what he meant, he said, "Well, if I have Santa, he can give me presents all the time." Oh, boy...
We're looking forward to all the great events our town is throwing for the holidays (an elf workshop, breakfast with Santa, light hunting...). I'm sure I'll have an entertaining story to share concerning the Elf on the Shelf. In the meantime, Santa better keep me on the "nice list" for having to deal with my three kids during the holidays ;)