Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Time Out For Santa
I have spent the past month preparing the boys for Christmas. We talked about how Santa brings special gifts to each child to help Baby Jesus celebrate his birthday. We have been listening to Christmas music and singing songs, shopping for gifts to give loved ones, reading book after book about Christmas. We have talked about Santa and his elves preparing toys and reindeer that can fly. I have tried to help them experience the holiday magic and sacredness of Christmas. But, somehow I think the boys have missed the point...
I overheard them playing "pretend." And they have decided to incorporate rules and consequences into their imaginary world. SO...
The elves were sent to Time Out for not making enough toys, the Reindeer were given a Time Out for not eating, and Mrs. Claus gave Santa a Time Out.
The other night, even Grandma was threatened with a Time Out if she woke up the baby!!!
I knew it was getting serious when I heard them telling one of their dolls, "You better be nice or you will go to Time Out and Santa won't bring you any presents."
Ah, all of my hard work for nothing. They missed the whole point. The magic, the marvel, the holiness. All out the window. The only thing they took to heart is THE SANTA THREAT.
At the beginning of the season I swore I would not be a parent who used Santa to manipulate my children into good behavior. But, somewhere along the way I feel off that soapbox. It was just too darn easy!! It started simple enough...Hubby and I wanted the living room cleaned and Hubby said, "Santa is listening." Well, that room was cleaned in a flash!! It was as if Santa himself had sprinkled magic dust on our children and set them in motion.
Next, it was "You wouldn't want Santa to see you hitting your brother, would you??"
And eventually it got to the ever popular Naughty List. No one wants be on that list!!!
Once I heard Santa being put in time out, I decided to take it literally. I thought we needed to step back from that jolly old elf and start focusing on the real reason for the season. So I set up a day for the boys to give back. I told them we were going to help Jesus celebrate his birthday by helping someone who needed it. We decided to donate jackets to a local ministry that participates in the Midnight Run in NYC. So the boys and I loaded up a bag of outgrown coats and drove them over to the community center. They had a great time dragging the bag around. They told the woman in charge that they were there to give their jackets to people with no jackets. Plain and simple.
I have no idea if they "got it." But, for a few minutes we stopped in the middle of the holiday madness to take in the importance of it all. And although they fought me on giving away Daddy's jacket because "he might get cold," they were excited to drop off that bag.
And so we will wait for Santa to arrive, we will be overjoyed to open gifts and play with all the new treasures. But, I hope what they will remember is the holiday "feast" with their family, the time shared with loved ones, the simple moments that make it all magical.
And I hope that no one will have to get sent to Time Out! At least for the day!!