One morning, a couple of weeks ago, we got up and I asked Sweet Pea if she would like to go see Santa. I thought it might be good to try a "practice round" before trying for a real picture with Santa. I wasn't sure what she would think or say about this, because we hadn't made a huge deal about Santa other than watching Veggie Tales Christmas (adorable, by the way; tells about the true St. Nicholas, something we like to focus on while still enjoying the make-believe game) and seeing the old claymation Santa Claus TV special. She loved both of those shows though, and as soon as I mentioned seeing him she (surprisingly) lit up.
"I give him...can-nee cane, Mama?"
"I give him can-nee cane!"
"You want to give Santa a candy cane?" (News to me that she knew what a candy cane was!)
"Well...sure! Actually, I don't have any candy canes. How about a lollipop?"
We picked out a lollipop color, then she ran with it, still in her jammies, to the door and tried to run for the car. She was ready to go. But I (also still in jammies) needed some time. That took some 'splainin'. When will I figure out that it's better to tell a toddler that you're going to do something with them as you're on your way to do it?
We met my mom and Bean at the mall, did some shopping, had a snack, then went to find Santa. Sweet Pea was clutching her lollipop and my neck like her life depended on it, but she was determined to give Santa that lollipop.
We had a camera malfunction and didn't get any shots of her handing Santa that lollipop, but it was so sweet. True to nature, she was very shy and wouldn't leave my side, but she handed over that lollipop and said, "Merry Christmas!" so clearly and sweetly. I love that she already has a giving heart. I love that she understands that Christmas is about giving. Santa asked what she wanted for Christmas and she told him she wanted birthday cake. (After all, Christmas is Jesus' birthday. And what do you have on birthdays? Birthday cake! Makes sense to me!)
He took the tiny lollipop from her, thanked her, wished her a merry Christmas and gave her- wait for it- a peppermint lollipop. She stared in awe and bounced away happily.
|Making sure Santa isn't coming any closer.|
|Being adorable and loving those lollipops!|
|Loves, loves, loves shoes.|
And just like that, she smiled. She looked back at him and went right to his lap. (Santa looked at me with surprise...maybe he wasn't used to people connecting him to Jesus? Maybe he's Jewish?) She listened to him ask her questions and nodded yes. She told him she wanted a mermaid for Christmas. (News to me!)
|That's a happy face. Sorry for the unedited pictures.|
|Tell him she wants a mermaid.|
She's only two, and I get that she's not going to "get" it yet. Yet, if you ask her, she'll tell you the names of Jesus's mama and daddy. If you ask her why we get presents for Christmas, she'll tell you it's Jesus's birthday. If you ask her why St. Nicolas gave presents to little kids who didn't have them, she'll say because he loves Jesus. And that last part is what melts my heart every time. So we got her some yogurt.
I have to be honest and say that the whole Santa thing had me a little hung up for a bit. Maybe I was over thinking it, but it just feels confusing in the mix of already trying to explain the Nativity to a toddler. In our family, Santa is a fun and special tradition, although not the focus of Christmas. My side of the family actually opens our gifts to each other on Christmas eve. We take turns so everyone can see each other open the things they got for each other and everyone can properly thank everyone else. It's slow and sweet and quiet (well, as quiet as it can be with little ones around!) and I love it like that. The little ones "believe" in Santa, but they also know that St. Nicholas was a real person who served others because he loved Jesus. Our family tradition is that Santa brings one special gift for each child and fills their stockings. They know that all the adults fill stockings for each other. They know that Santa brings them gifts because he loves them, not based on how "good" they've been. My hope is that incorporating the real story of St. Nicholas into the make-believe fun part helps to set the kids up for good conversations in the future, but also lets us all enjoy the magic and anticipation of a fun tradition. I look forward to likening our anticipation of Santa to the coming of our Lord. I have so many sweet, fond memories of the Santa tradition from my childhood, so it was important to me to keep it up for my own little one while still keeping the focus of Christmas on Jesus. I love that every family does this a little differently!