Tuesday, December 12
Providence and Irony
Tad made a quick trip to GOD'S COUNTRY South Carolina this week, and we contemplated my tagging along. His days would be occupied with work, and I would've been cut loose to visit family, lunch with friends, Christmas shop, and basically be released from the demands of home, freed from the bondage of what "needed" to get done. Nights would be ours;).

Historically, childcare has been an issue, we have no family nearby. Perhaps one of the things for which we are most thankful are a few friends here who gladly care for our children, allowing us occasional getaways. We love our babies, but we love our time away. Personally, I think it allows us to love our babies even better (not "more", just better).

At the last minute, we decided for me to stay home. There's work still to be completed on the bathroom renovation (did you forget about it? How could I?? I'm still living out of an overnight bag!), I have some fun things planned later in the week, we're hosting a Christmas party Saturday night, and I STILL have to finish putting out our Christmas decorations. I'm as slow as a snail when it comes to this, I decorate like I clean: start. stop. here. there....an ADHA child when it comes to matters of housekeeping and decorating (and probably a host of other things "to do").

Tad had been gone less than four hours when the first "crisis" occurred, and I could not have been more thankful for remaining home. There have been two so far, and I'm praying there's not a third.

This goes with "Providence" in the post title. Once I began writing, this got so long, I needed a break. I'll come back later to write the "Irony" part... for now, read this and weep, I am.

[1] Shortly after we arrived home from school yesterday, Thomas rushed into the house with a panicked look on his face. "Mom! Help! Stephen just asked if Santa Claus was real!"

This is when I despise the "honesty police" that lives within me; when asked a direct question, I'll give you a direct answer, and it might not be the one you want to hear--I sooo wish I could just give you the one you want to hear sometimes. But if I think you "look fat in those pants" or your haircut looks ridiculous, or I don't wanna eat at the restaurant you suggested, you'll know it. Don't ask if you don't wanna hear Robin's version of the truth. I'm kind in response, I try to spin it nicely, but if you listen, you'll hear what I'm saying. I've been accused of being brutal (which, to me, is both a curse and a compliment).

So, my advice to Thomas was to throw the question back to Stephen, to ask him what HE thought. Thomas had already done that. I told him if Stephen persisted, to encourage him to ask me or Tad and we'd handle it.

Sometimes Thomas' sweetness balms my soul. He was aching for Stephen himself, realizing that his little brother was "growing up", and even he wanted him to still believe in Santa Claus. "I just feel so bad for him, I don't want him to know," and he meant it. I asked Thomas if Stephen mentioned kids talking about it at school, but he said Stephen had simply concluded "there was no way Santa could live forever...." I don't know why I thought Thomas might be waiting for opportunity to bust Stephen's bubble about this, I guess as one of four siblings, I know kids can be cruel for sport. I had a great friendship with my siblings, but when I was that age, I messed with their minds when given the chance.

Thomas returned to shooting hoops, and not two minutes later, Stephen was in the house. He looked like he had seen a ghost. "Mom, I have kind of a random question. Is Santa Clause...." before he could finish his sentence, as he saw the solemness of my expression, he knew the answer before I could respond. He collapsed into my lap, unable to hold back his tears, my mommy-heart crying in silent unison. I was rendered speechless...every thought I had was trite, cliché, pointless. The only comfort I could give was to smother him in my arms and let him cry...let him be a little boy who mourned this coming-of-age moment...my child who, out of everyone in our family, most delighted in the MAGIC of Christmas...HE was the first to retrieve his ornaments from the attic, HE was the one who helped me unpack our decorations, HE is the one who dug through another storage area to pull out our collection of Christmas books, HE prided in arranging our crèches, HE's the one who waters the tree...are you getting a picture of why this breaks my heart? This MATTERED to him. He's nine, which is kind of old to still believe (especially with an older brother and sister), yet he wasn't embarrassed or self conscious to ask when we were going to visit Santa.

I wasn't about to pontificate "the true meaning of Christmas" to him, or stress the spiritual dimensions of the holiday. To me, that would be cruel...manipulative...a guilt inducer for something for which he had no reason to feel guilty. He knows all that, he didn't need a reminder.

I imagine there will be those who google how to respond to this question. Sadly, no pearls of wisdom from me, no wise and masterfully articulated, "Yes,Virginia,there is a Santa Claus". Just the freedom for him to cry it out while he came to terms with the truth, in the safety and security of an embrace that quietly--but most assuredly--ministered "love". I am beyond thankful I was home to field this question.

Which, even Stephen knows, matters more than Santa.

After he said his prayers and I kissed him good night last night, as I was leaving his room, he asked, "Can we still go see Santa Claus?" You betcha:)!

If you're visiting from a Jenny's "Naked & Free" post, I'd love to hear your thoughts, too. And thanks for letting me "get naked" with you....

  Into the pensieve on Tuesday, December 12, 2006
  Your thoughts, please (21)

At December 12, 2006, Anonymous swampwitch said...

I can't write anything right now. My chest hurts too much. I can say this, though, you are a talented writer. I felt like I was right there with you trying to hug him.

At December 12, 2006, Blogger Erin said...

Your son's reaction to "the news" is very touching. He sounds like one of those fiercely optimistic, loyal, hopeful, devoted, glass-is-always-half-full type of people.

I hope he matures into that same kind of man- someone who upholds what Santa REPRESENTS, even if he doesn't believe the stories anymore. Our culture is so jaded and pessimistic that people with your son's character will help us lighten up and embrace life.

At December 12, 2006, Blogger Robin said...

Swampy, your sweetness oozes! merci :)

Ya know, Erin...he is. I've never thought of him that way, but he's the eternal optimist at age 9. Gosh, I hope that doesn't go away with time...if I could just figure out how to protect it.........

At December 12, 2006, Blogger Karmyn R said...

oh gosh - I'm crying, Robin.

All because we are facing this issue with my babe - almost 6 and already coming home from school, upset because the boys in his class are telling him Santa isn't real. He so wants to believe. I want him to believe. I want him to stay little.

At December 12, 2006, Blogger Robin said...

Karmyn.......**HUGS!** THAT'S TOO YOUNG! I'm coming to whip some 5-year-old bootay. Okay, no, I'm not, but :( doggone it. LET THE MAGIC LAST AS LONG AS IT CAN! They only get to "believe" for five minutes out of their life, so I'm all about the charade.

I know there are plenty of people...who were "scarred" in childhood from their parents telling them this "lie". While I certainly don't think everyone should see things exactly as I do, I don't understand being damaged from the fantasy of Santa. I've heard all the arguments against it, but I don't buy 'em. I DESPISE the MATERIALISM of Christmas, so that's not what I'm talking about when I encourage this whole Santa/magic thing. But...little elves in workshops, flying reindeer, rounding the globe in a night, never getting full on cookies and milk, sneaking in and sneaking out and never getting caught, a never-ending bag of gifts for others...magic...fun...sweet fantasies of youth.

Find a way for jammin' to keep believing. Because he wants to, he will...for a little longer, anyway. Heck, read him the "Virginia" letter.

At December 12, 2006, Blogger Claudia said...

OhRobin!! that is so sweet from both boys!! My heart melted for both of them...

At December 12, 2006, Blogger Robin said...

Claudia, you're a sweetie. And I tried 27 times to post to you today :(...Blogger Beta STINKS! I'll try again soon.

At December 12, 2006, Blogger Susan in va said...

(*sniff*) (*sob*) WAH! Poor little guy! I'm with Claudia - I teared up when I read how the older brother handled it! He wanted to protect his little brother. Isn't it comforting to see how they come together in a crisis?

At December 12, 2006, Blogger Susan in va said...

Robin, my W.V. for my last comment was IBLAB - yes, I do!!!

At December 12, 2006, Blogger Claudia said...

Robin...I don't know what to say about beta and blogger...is it because of the WV?

At December 12, 2006, Blogger Pamela said...

oh ... I hope they never stop believing in grandmas

At December 12, 2006, Blogger Yvonne said...

Awww - that made ME want to cry!

At December 12, 2006, Anonymous Jenny said...

Ow. That one hurt. A lot. But so sweet of his brother to want to save him from knowing!

At December 12, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

I have tears imagining poor Stephen!

At December 12, 2006, Blogger Sally said...

Santa is magical and because we grew up with that magic, we share it with our children. But, when the truth is so painful, it makes me wonder why do we basically lie to our children?

We tell them about Santa bringing toys and then we tell them there's no such thing as Santa. It sort of doesn't make sense! How do we justify it? Because of the magic?

Well, I have no answers. I'm just waiting for the day my daughter asks but I'm ill-prepared, really! Does anyone really know how to explain reasons for Santa?

At December 13, 2006, Anonymous eph2810 said...

I think you handled it well with Stephen. What a blessing you were home. Although, I am sure, it was a hard decision for you no tagging along with your hubby.
Blessings on Wednesday and always.

At December 14, 2006, Blogger LeftCoastOnlooker said...

Hey Robin,
I know this is kind of late, but I knew it was somewhere, so I had to find it. It's not my story, but I thought it might cheer.

I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit my Grandma on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her world-famous cinnamon buns.
Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus!" she snorted, - Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let's go"
"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked.

"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through it doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days.
"Take this money and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often go ne shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping.

For a few moments I just stood there, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. Suddenly I thought of Bobbie Decker. He sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class.

Bobbie Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out for recess during the winter. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement.
I would buy Bobbie Decker a coat. I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons and write, "To Bobbie, From Santa Claus" on it -- Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobbie Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobbie's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge.
"All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going." I took a deep breath dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pressed his doorbell and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma.
From there we watched Bobbie come to the door and pick up his present from Santa.

Forty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my grandma, in Bobbie Decker's bushes. That night , I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: "Ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team."

At December 17, 2006, Anonymous ReneeM said...

Last year, Keenan almost 6, he knew Santa wasn't real, but still was all into it.

THIS year, almost 7, he has been SO obsessed over it to distraction, asking ALL KINDS of questions!!! So I thought he was convinced it was all completely true...

BUT at dinner prayers the other night he prayed this "Dear God, Help us to believe and hope in You because you are real and Santa is in our imaginings" - of course from the recent questioning, you would never know he actually knew that, BUT, he loves loves fantasy!! :)

At December 17, 2006, Blogger Karmyn R said...

I'm back to read again from the carnival - still brings tears to my eyes.

At December 17, 2006, Blogger CyberCelt said...

My son was a late learner about Santa Claus. I still believe in him. He lives in our hearts ...

Here from BCs.

At August 27, 2007, Blogger Margaret said...

I think I pressed the X button too soon. If I double comment, I'm sorry.

I am here from Jenny.

That breaks my heart. Wow.... But I have to tell you, that at 33 years old, I still get presents from Santa. Admittedly, more b/c of my 4 year old nephew (my 10 year old niece is kinda past the whole Santa thing) but we have always gotten gifts from him.

It's such a pure joy and a good thing to believe in. Even if you "know"


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Married to my college sweet-heart :)...three GREAT kids I'm not selling to the circus today...I LOVE to laugh (& smile often)...love to read & cook, hate to shop (unless the store is very small and doesn't leave me dazed and confused). I'm scared of flying so although I'd like to travel more, I don't.

I've been pleasantly surprised to find life in my 40s to be an amazing time of transformation & discovery--of self, others, creation and the Creator.

Here's a partial explanation for my Blog title. I think it'd be cool if they really existed.

A Pensieve is a stone basin.... [One] can extract his or her own memories and place them in the Pensieve, especially to relieve the mind when it becomes too flooded with information. Anyone can examine the memories in the Pensieve, which also allows viewers to fully immerse themselves in the memories stored within...

A Pensieve first appears in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire...

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my 2/17/06 post.

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