Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Santa's Number

Seth gets aggravated with me every Sunday morning because I'm always the last one to leave the church building because I'm talking, and he's already in the truck waiting on me.  In my defense, after church is the only time I have to talk to anyone.  As soon as I get there, I start up the computer and load the MediaShout script so it can be ready for the morning worship time.  Then I go to my Sunday school class to finish any last minute preparations for my class.  As soon as Sunday School is over, I rush to the sanctuary, gather my music, put my microphone on, pray with the choir and then begin the service.  So there is no time for conversation.  I also tell him that Sunday is the only day of the week that gives me the opportunity for adult conversation, meaning conversation with someone besides a seven year old, five year old and four month old.

But really, that isn't true.  Some of my best conversations are with my seven year old and five year old.  They are honest.  They are inquisitive.  They challenge me and humble me.  Besides, as is the case with most children, you just never know what they're going to say.  Sometimes I want to cry.  And sometimes it's all I can do to stifle the giggle that I don't want them to hear.  I wish I could remember all of our conversations.  There are some that I surely won't forget . . . or, at least I hope I don't.  But since I don't trust that very much, I try to write down the "priceless" ones.  This would be one of those conversations that I want to remember.

It's no secret that we live in a society that inundates us with the commercialism of Christmas.  It begins as early as July when Christmas ornaments and ribbons begin to stock the store shelves.  And then the big box store toy catalogs so conveniently arrive in your mailbox advertising the latest and greatest toys, trying to convince you that they have the biggest selection at the best price.  I remember very vividly when I was a little girl the Sears Wish Book.  That thing was pages and pages!  I would spend hours pouring over the pages.  And I would circle the things I wanted for Christmas.  Most of them I did not get, and I knew I wouldn't get them, but it was still fun none-the-less.  While we no longer get that big Wish Book, there is no end to the toy magazines and catalogs that have arrived in our mailbox this season.

While I absolutely love all of the traditions surrounding Christmas, I have very prayerfully and carefully tried to teach my children and emphasize to them that JESUS is what, or rather Who, Christmas is all about.  We started really early with the Fisher Price nativity scene.  We read the first Christmas story over and over in our Bibles.  We sing the Christmas carols proclaiming the blessed birth of Christ.  And we also make it a point to give to others as generously as we can.  Our children wake up to presents and surprises on Christmas morning, but they know, and have always known, WHO "Santa" really is.  I've had friends question me about this.  While I don't really feel it necessary to defend our decisions or even recommend them to others, I will only say that our children are not missing out on anything at Christmas time.  I promise!  They're having just as much fun as everyone else.  

As summer gave way to fall and Christmas decorations hit the store shelves and those toy magazines arrived in our mailbox, I noticed that Hannah Kate was very much focused on what she wanted, not only for Christmas but her birthday, too.  She had literally hoarded every single toy magazine and sale paper that has come through the door, so much so that I began hiding them from her and throwing them away in the outside garbage so she wouldn't see them.  Not only that, but she went through every magazine, and put an "H" beside every toy she wanted.  That means that nearly every girlie, age appropriate toy was marked with an "H!"  In her defense, she has waited a long time to open a gift since she has a December birthday.  But I began to feel that she was focusing too much on the getting and receiving, and I wondered that perhaps I hadn't done a "good enough job" teaching her the "reason for the season."  In reality though, she's five.  So I realize I need to cut her some slack.  And me, too.

So as Hannah Kate continued to "H" everything in every catalog and remind me day after day after day what she wanted, I would always tell her that we would put that "on her list."  And we finally made a list. Several lists.  About three weeks ago, I sat down with her to pen her final list.  There were two.  One for her birthday and one for Christmas.  The birthday list contained all of the items from the big box stores.  The Christmas list contained only American Girl items for Emily Bennett.  I began to explain to her that she wouldn't be able to get everything on either list because it was just too much.  So we eventually numbered the items on each list in the order of what she most wanted to what she least wanted, as if there was a "least wanted."

Shortly before Thanksgiving, Hannah Kate came into the kitchen one night, and this was the conversation:

Hannah Kate: Mama, I need to write a letter to Santa.
Me: Oh really?
Hannah Kate: Yes.
Me: And why do you need to do that?
Hannah Kate: So I can get what's on my list.
Me (it was the end of a long day, and I just wasn't in the mood to play along): Do you really think that's a good idea?  (as if she's going to give me the "right" answer)
Hannah Kate: Well that's what Abbie did.  She wrote Santa a letter.  And she got everything on her list.  And she told me that if I want everything on my list, I better write a letter to Santa.

At this point, there was nothing else for me to say so I just changed the subject.  She hinted around at it again, but I just let it go.  And then I found out that she told her MawMaw on Thanksgiving day (I wasn't there since I was home taking care of Mason) that she "needed to talk to Aunt Ashley about this Santa Claus thing because she needed to know how to get what she wanted but Mama said that there isn't a Santa."  So, at that point, I knew I had trouble on my hands, and I can only hope she, in fact, did not approach her Aunt Ashley (or Abbie!) with that conversation.

Last Wednesday I was nursing Ellie.  Hannah Kate came in the family room with yet another piece of paper and pencil in hand.  She began asking me how to spell different words so I was spelling them for her so she could write them on her paper.  At first, I wasn't really paying attention to exactly what it was she was writing. Then I realized it was another list, only this time with a complete sentence.  This is how it ended up: 
In translation, Hannah Kate wants a gymnastics outfit for her American Girl doll.  But it's not just any gymnastics outfit.  It's purple with a star in the middle and obviously comes with purple shoes, too.  When I finished nursing Ellie, I went to the kitchen to cook supper.  By this time, Seth was home.  I heard Hannah Kate talking to him, but it was in a hushed tone so I couldn't hear.  A few minutes later she came into the kitchen. The conversation went like this:

Hannah Kate: I just wrote a letter to Santa to tell him about that gymnastics outfit I want for Emily.
Me: You did?
Hannah Kate: Yes. 

And she holds this out for me to see:
With her Daddy's help, she'd written "Dear Santa" on the back of her paper.

And then it went a little something like this:

Hannah Kate: I need to send this to Santa.
Me (thinking I'm going to "play along," but I'm really still giving her a hard time): Well, do you know his address?
Hannah Kate: What?
Me: Do you know his address?  You have to have his address to send it to him?  You know how Mommy writes the address on cards that we send to people?
Hannah Kate (rather despondent at this point): Oh.  I don't know.
Me (beginning to feel like a heel and really wanting to somehow encourage her): Well, why don't you ask Abbie?
Hannah Kate: Abbie?
Me: Yes.  I'm sure she knows the address.  You can ask her on Saturday when she comes over for your party.

And then she runs into the family room where Seth is sitting, who, by the way has already heard this conversation.

Seth: Hannah Kate, tell Mama to google it.

(Yes, he's going to get my goat, now.)

Hannah Kate (clearly very confused): What?
Seth: Tell Mama to google it.  Look it up on the computer.  She can look it up on the computer.
Hannah Kate (definitely thinking this isn't going to work): Mama, Daddy said it's on your computer.
Seth (now yelling at me from the other room to be sure I hear him): You know you can google it.  Just look it up on your phone.

At this point, Hannah Kate is beside herself.  And so am I!

And then he takes it too far.

Seth: Hannah Kate, I know what you need to do.  Give it to MawMaw.  Take it to MawMaw's.  SHE KNOWS what Santa's address is!

In other words, Santa lives on Highway 77 in Grosse Tete, Louisiana!

By this time, Hannah Kate is thoroughly confused so she just drops the conversation entirely.  I was surprised that she didn't bring it up again during the next couple of days.  I was also surprised that I didn't see her Dear Santa letter laying around anywhere.

Last Friday I rearranged the furniture in the family room so I would have a better vantage point of seeing our Christmas tree.  When I moved the end tables, I found the letter underneath one of them.  I was excited, thinking I'd done something that would make Hannah Kate really proud.  I whipped out the letter and excitedly proclaimed that I'd found it under the table.  Her response? 

I know.  I put it there on purpose.  I wanted to hide it from you to be sure nothing happened to it.

And what could I say to that?  Nothing.

After Hannah Kate's birthday party on Saturday, she was discussing the things she'd received that were on her list, the things she received that weren't on her list and the things on her list she didn't receive.  So I explained again that we probably won't always get everything on our list.  I also took the opportunity (a teachable moment, right?) to discuss the boys and girls around the world who don't even have a list and who never get presents . . . and that it's great to get birthday presents and Christmas presents but that we should also want to give to others who don't have presents.  Her response?

Yeah.  I already did that.  We made those shoeboxes.  Remember? (referencing our Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts)

Well.  I guess she thinks she's learned that lesson.

And then today there was another conversation.  Again, I was in the kitchen fixing supper.  Hannah Kate walked up to me, the Dear Santa letter in hand.

Hannah Kate: I wonder what Santa's number is.
Me (thinking she was now talking about his phone number): Santa's number?  I don't know.
Hannah Kate: Yeah, Santa's number.

And then I realized she meant his address.

Hannah Kate: I asked Abbie at my party.
Me: You did?
Hannah Kate: Yeah, I asked Abbie if she knew Santa's number.
Me: And what did Abbie tell you?
Hannah Kate: Nothing.
Me: Nothing?
Hannah Kate: Yeah.  Nothing.  She just said, "Santa's number."  And she said it just like this: "Santa's NUMBER??"

And then she sighed and walked out of the kitchen, letter in hand.  I smiled as I realized Abbie didn't know that Hannah Kate was really meaning to ask for Santa's address and not his number.

At this point, I'm not quite sure how I'm going to handle this one or how it's going to end.  I only know one thing.  I'm fairly certain it's not over yet!  And I guess I need to google Santa's number!

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