(a belated letter from me and mine)
First, I confess that I was not always a big believer in you. Perhaps because I am the youngest child in a family with three older siblings, by the time I was old enough to buy into the mystique of it all – the legend of you, and the accompanying traditions – the enthusiasm in our household was waning. It may also simply be that I have a slight, natural bend toward the suspicious. I like to self-identify as a pragmatist, but, in an extreme circumstance or two, others have actually called me a pessimist. At any rate, labels aside, my inherent skepticism, coupled with the commercialization, stress, expectation, and overall commotion that swirls around the event of your annual visit has, in recent years, left me doubtful and downright humbuggy. This is not who I want to be. Not for me. Not for my son.
Now, it has been suggested to me by someone that I love and trust, that I have the ability and the freedom to reclaim this holiday and make it whatever I want it be. For me. For my son. From now on.
So, with that in mind, I am in the process of degrinchifying, and rebuilding Christmas. My Christmas. I am keeping all the best of what I remember: family, lights, gifts, and Chex Mix, and adding new traditions: electric trains, ham soup, hand-made presents, and charity. In addition, I want to unabashedly bring the baby Jesus back to the party, and most of all, Santa, I want you there – because it is clear to me now, this year more than ever, what an important role you play. You are the very real, joyful manifestation of an irrefutable, powerfully possessing spirit that reminds us to forever celebrate the miraculous birth of a child. God’s child. Every child. I clearly understand the significance of that now. And I believe.
Next, to satisfy my practical nature, while I have your ear, I want to be sure that my son is on your list for next year. I don’t necessarily like the idea of speaking for him, however if he takes after me in the least, he will not be a very skillful self-promoter, and he will not always feel comfortable asking for what it is that he wants, or deserves. In addition, at fifteen months, understandably he has not yet developed a highly proficient means of correspondence. So, Santa, with those things in mind, and realizing that as his father, my opinion of him may be viewed as somewhat biased, I would like to submit the following in his behalf.
He is such a good boy.
- While it is true that he is fortunate to be surrounded by a large, loving family: two moms, a dad, one Paul, three grandfathers, three grandmothers, one nana, two godmothers, a godfather, five aunts, five uncles, ten cousins, seven second cousins, two dogs, and a cat named Slick – this can be a lot for one little boy to juggle, and he always manages to do it with ease and grace.
- He also had to say goodbye to two other dogs this year, Bubba and Honey, and he helped us all get through those painful days in ways that he will never know.
- Also, he is very flexible. While our goal is for him to feel a single sense of home, he has two households and he easily travels back and forth between the two without complaint.
- He is genuinely happy and very social.
- He very rarely cries when he is handed from one parent to another, or from a sitter to a relative when childcare is required – I think he knows it would be harder for us if he did.
- He is a very good eater, and likes to try new things.
- He is a good sleeper too, except when he is teething, or not feeling well.
- This is the first year he has had to deal with a Christmas tree (two of them actually), and he did an amazing job of following his mommy’s ‘one-finger’ rule when it came to touching fragile ornaments.
- He makes all of us feel equally loved and important.
Sincere modesty commands me to stop there, while really I could go endlessly on, but I think you clearly get the picture. I’m a dad.
Because of the delayed writing of this letter, your next fly by is another whole year off. For that reason I will not list here specific suggestions of things that you might bring him – I will leave that for next year’s letter. For the record though, partly because of the aforementioned unwieldy clan of his, I am rather certain that there will seldom be anything that my son needs, so I will keep you in my hip pocket for those special things that he wants. As a heads up, however, just to start you and the elves a thinkin’, he loves balloons, and like you, Santa, he is awfully fond of the color red. Just a little bug in your ear.
In closing, I would like to say thank you for keeping me and mine on your radar, and for giving me a second shot at this whole Christmas thing. I will do my best from here on out to temper my pragmatism and practicality with mischief and merriment, and please know that you are always welcome down my chimney any time.
Wishing you a very merry (after) Christmas and a happy New Year.
All my love and gratitude to you and yours,