While not entirely staying away from the computer, I have resisted the temptation to sit here and write obsessively long posts like I normally would given the freedom of all this time off. It’s harder than you think.
Christmas was, in a word, a blast. This was easily the most fun Christmas ever. Watching Amanda tear through her gifts was quite an experience – hilarious, actually. She really “got” Christmas this year. She would rip the wrapping paper to shreds to get at what’s inside, give it a look, then move on with “What’s next?” And she got to say that a lot because she got a lot of stuff.
There was, however, a sad moment that morning when she opened her stocking and found a tube of M&Ms that I got for her that had a small train toy on top. She thought this was the train that she had asked Santa for . . . and she was perfectly satisfied with that. It was humbling how simple our children’s desires are and how extravagant our visions of what we imagine those desires are.
Regardless, after all the gifts were opened, I disappeared and came back dressed in the same Santa suit that my dad had dressed in for years when I was a kid (and, truthfully, well into my adulthood, much to my chagrin.) The ecstatic, gleeful greeting I expected Santa, bringer of gifts, would receive from Amanda, the one who pointed him out everywhere with an exclamation for the past month, did not come. She instead stood with terror in her eyes, then threw herself on the floor and buried her face in her hands. When Alissa coaxed her to stand again, she quickly turned around and faced the opposite direction so she couldn’t see Santa.
A while back Alissa and I had decided that it was the time to make a clean break with Amanda’s beloved pacifier. And the doctor had said so, too – two years old is the time that pacifiers need to stop being used. How to do that when your child depends on them to sleep? For months we couldn’t think of an easy way to transition over to non-pacifier sleep . . . until Christmas. Santa and the promise of a special toy presented a perfect opportunity – Amanda could give Santa her pacifier and he would give her a special toy. And so every couple of nights we reminded Amanda of this, asking her what was going to happen at Christmastime, and she would reply with something along the lines of “I give Santa pacifier” and, when prodded, she would say that Santa was going to give her a train. And she was excited to see Santa.
When Santa arrived Christmas morning, Alissa had to beg Amanda to approach me (as him.) She had apparently not realized Santa would be here in our house with her. When she finally did approach, it was a run, and she sprinted to me, pacifier out, and threw it at Santa, and returned to her mommy 20 feet away just as quickly. Santa then went away and her daddy returned, who was “surprised” to hear that Santa had visited.
And with that, things returned to normal. Convinced that Santa was gone, she came out into the front room, where all her toys are now, and found a giant package.
Tearing it open, she uncovered the big train set that we had bought ages ago and that I spent the last few nights putting together. And, thankfully, she loves it – she’s spent the majority of her time around it playing with trains and cars and planes. Her other toys get plenty of attention, but this one truly is the center right now, as it should be.
Asked later what she thought of Santa, she said, “Santa is scary.” We’ll have to wait and see what she thinks about Santa visiting next year. When asked right now if she wants Santa to come back, her response is a resounding “No.”
And, believe it or not, she gave up the pacifier easily. We weren’t sure if she got that giving the thing to Santa was a permanent move or not – and really we believe she did not get that – but that evening, exhausted from a long day of playing and opening with no nap other than a short one on the way home that night, she simply asked about it a couple times, and we both told her that Santa had it and she had her new train set in exchange. She got it, laid down, and tried to go to sleep, babbling to herself quietly about the book she took to bed.
When she called out a bit later, I went in and she said with a tearful voice, “Daddy, I really need my pacifier,” I had to level with her – Santa took it to a Lithuanian orphan named Frankie, a little baby who needed it, and she was a little girl now. I can’t call her a big girl – I did this the other day and she got upset: “I’m a little girl!” There are many distinctions in age when you’re a child that we forget about as adults, apparently.
Silence soon issued from her room, sleep coming for the first time without her pacifier for the majority of her life – what seemed like a Christmas miracle to us. And, with that, Christmas was over.