Santa is EVERYWHERE. It's not just at the mall anymore. You can swim with Santa at the YMCA (cue the hand gestures). You can see him on a boat, on a train, with a fox in a box. But seriously, you can even see him in the frozen foods section at a local grocery store. You can also see Santa in a barn.
Or at your piano recital.
Even with ubiquity of the jolly old soul himself, I feel a sense of responsibility to keep the magic alive for Little Miss J and J2. My parents always did such a good job. I was definitely a believer. While I want my kids to feel that same sense of wonder, it turns out we are kind of terrible Santas.
My friend, Jenn, has special Santa wrapping paper and has gone as far as having coworkers write on the gift tags or write with her left hand, so that her kids do not notice her handwriting. I tried the special Santa wrapping paper one year, but then Gus was being helpful by wrapping presents and used a combination of wrapping paper that included the special Santa wrapping paper.
This year, about a week or so before Christmas, I noticed that my stocking was already stuffed. Gus had, apparently, already put gifts in my stocking. When I mentioned that this was going to be difficult to explain to the kids, it became clear that the stockings hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there, left no impression on him. He said, "Wait, you mean Santa puts stuff in stockings?"
On Christmas Eve, Gus was faced with the task of assembling a 4 foot dollhouse for Little Miss J, who wrote a letter to Santa a week before Christmas requesting a dollhouse. Since she fell asleep on the way home from the annual Chunglund Christmas Eve crab extravaganza, we got straight to work on the dollhouse. J2 was still awake, but he's 2, we figured we weren't messing up his Santa magic. While Gus was diligently working away, J2 watched and said, "Appah building!"
Fast forward to Christmas morning. Little Miss J dutifully stayed in her room until J2 woke up, and then we all headed for the living room to see if Santa had arrived. As soon as J2 sees the dollhouse he smiles and starts clapping, "Yay Appah. Good job!" Thankfully, Little Miss J was too excited about gifts that she didn't seem to notice.
In my stocking were pajama pants and a selfie stick. When I opened it, Little Miss J said, "Appah and I bought you that at Target!" She seemed surprisingly unphased for such an astute little girl.
Overall, I feel like a Santa failure simply because my kids do not seem all that impressed with Santa at all. Perhaps it is just a function of the on demand lifestyle that we live in these days. They just don't seem as AMAZED as I think they should be that they ask some strange man for something and he actually gets it for them even when he has to fly all over the world giving all the other children all the stuff they asked for!
But maybe that's OK. I was teasing her Christmas morning by asking "Do you think Santa came? What if he didn't come?" She solemnly replied that she would still be happy even if he didn't bring anything. I somehow think the kids should be more excited about their gifts, but really I should just be happy that Little Miss J was most excited about spending the day with her family and then going next door to play at the neighbors. Even as a five year old, Little Miss J knows that "maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas means a little bit more." And that in and of itself is a pretty good gift.