Today I write to about a Christmas miracle our family experienced last weekend. Now, let me be clear, it isn’t one of those Christmas miracles where someone was healed of a terminal illness, and it isn’t one of those miracles where warring troops declared a truce for Christmas day. But, to the parents of small children visiting Santa without a meltdown is most definitely a miracle.
Parents talk about a trip to Santa without a meltdown like conspiracy theorists talk about the grassy knoll, like prospectors talk of gold nuggets, and like storm chasers talk about F-5 tornadoes. Seeing Saint Nick without someone melting down is an almost mythical experience for parents raising small children. When parents get together they speak of the flawless visit to the jolly old elf in hushed tones, doubting the word of those that say they have experienced it, and hoping that one day they too will join the ranks of those who visited Santa without an incident.
By way of example here are some of our best entries through the years.
Needless to say our track record with Santa and meltdowns is not the best.
So, Sunday afternoon we packed up the kids and headed to see Santa because that is what parents do. You've probably heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It is no small coincidence that this is also the definition of parenting.
We were prepared for the worst. The one kid I was absolutely not worried about was the six-year-old Zoologist who was pumped and ready to ask Santa for a pair of binoculars with a compass on them, something I encouraged him to bring up since we already bought him that for Christmas. The four-year-old Ballerina was happy because we all sang songs from the movie Frozen on the way, and I thought we had a good chance to keep her happy throughout the experience, but parenting nightmares usually start out with the phrase, "I thought we had a good chance." The two-year-old Demolitions Expert all but demoralized Santa with her antics last year, so she had me the most worried. The six-month-old Jedi is a pretty easy-going kid thus far, but he's a baby, you never know what a baby is going to do. He might smile, he might cry, he might spit up all over Santa, he might poop on Santa. The whole thing is a real crap shoot with a baby.
Now, a couple of disclaimers about Santa. First, we aren't huge Santa people. We do the whole Santa thing because it is cute and fun, but we don't lie to the kids about Santa. If they ask if he is real we generally just respond to their question with a question about what do they think, and we turn the conversation over to the baby in the manger as quickly as possible. Second, the Santa that we have gone to for the last six years died suddenly a couple of weeks ago. We went to the same location we always go to, but the Santa was different.
While we were waiting in line the Zoologist was doing some quick thinking about this whole Santa thing and he asked me, "So, are there like a bunch of different Santas?" He asked this because there are Santas everywhere. If every mall has a Santa, how does that work. Before I could answer one of the elves standing near us decided she would explain things to the Zoologist, but she didn't really understand his question. She thought he was asking about why they usual Santa (remember he passed away) was not there this year. She responded by saying that this Santa is one of the real Santa's helpers and the real Santa went back home to the North Pole with a cold. Now, I get that the fact that we won't lie to our kids about Santa is not the way everybody does it, and that's ok with me. Different strokes for different folks. But maybe we shouldn't tell children that someone who is no longer breathing went home with a cold. What's she gonna tell him next year. Anyway, we tried to keep things moving along and before we knew it it was our turn.
Which is when this happened.
Our very own, bonafide Christmas miracle.
Keep at it fellow parents! We've been to parenting Shangri-La, it really does exist.