Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Recovery and Preparation

Recovering from the epic tree-trimming of yesterday. Preparing for the whole Santa Claus thing, since this will be our first year that Bella is really, REALLY into the whole scene. Most of the ideas she has relating to ol' St. Nick, she has picked up elsewhere--from little friends, cousins, television, Christmas specials, etc. She knows that she needs to write Santa a letter. She knows that somehow, she gets to see him, so she can ask him for her gift of choice, THE dollhouse. (Which reminds me, I only have until Dec. 3rd to order that and get a discount and free shipping, so remind me later, OK?) She knows that for this Santa visit, she gets to dress up and have her picture made, which is a HUGE draw.

As long as we avoid winding up in this gallery, I'll call that part a success.

Then there is the matter of actual Christmas Eve and morning. She knows that you are supposed to set out cookies and milk for the Big Guy, and is also of the opinion that the reindeer must have carrots. That should be fun to stage.

So, here's the challenge. Everyone knows that the excitement is in first checking for evidence of Santa's visit, meaning looking to see that he ate some cookies and drank some milk. Not a LOT, you understand, because that would be suspicious, since he's presumably eating cookies and drinking milk at every house in the world. And THEN you go to check the tree and your stocking. Our problem is that this is all taking place in the hearthroom, the central room of our home, and the stairs from Bella's room come down directly into this room. I'm hoping we can body-block her visually for a minute or two.

And yeah, I'm talking about Christmas a lot, and it's not even December. Sorry. But really, it's our first real grownup family Christmas in our first real grownup bought-together house-with-more-than-one-bathroom. And for the first time, we'll be "doing" Christmas morning in our own home before heading to visit other family, so we're starting our own family tradition NOW. And since Bella never. forgets. anything, the pressure, it is ON. I'm trying not to make myself too nuts about it, but I just don't want to wait until the last minute like I do with everything else, and forget some crucial element.

So. Here's a question for you Santa-Claus pros: When you were a kid, did Santa wrap your gifts, or not? For my sister and I, "Santa" gifts were always unwrapped, assembled, and ready to play with, while gifts from mere family members were wrapped. On the other hand, since Alex and I aren't buying a lot of gifts this year, there won't be too much in the way of wrapped gifts, and those are fun...to have them sitting under and around the tree for at least a couple weeks before Christmas was a delicious torture.

What's your call?

Now, for no reason, a couple of pictures I don't remember taking right before Thanksgiving dinner at Alex's mom's house:Contemplation of thankfulness...
YUP. Pretty darn Thankful!


  1. Don't stop loving me, but I think the whole myth and tradition of Santa is dumb. I never believed and was glad I could thank my parents who I knew did the work.

  2. I totally get it. I am proud to say that my mother NEVER lied to me about "Santa Claus," and I intend to follow her example. Like Bella, everything I picked up about SC came from outside sources. And when I got old enough to question it (which was pretty darn early--I was a cynical kid) directly, like, "Is there really a Santa Claus?" she would craft answers that were evasive, but honest, like, "Well, a lot of people believe that there is. What do YOU think?"

    Clever woman, my mom. I am, however, enjoying the power of the threatened "phone call to Santa," which is always phrased as, "Hmmmm...I wonder if we could call Santa, he would say you're on the nice list or the naughty list today?" It has POWER.

  3. I don't know how my parents pulled this off every year, but under the tree the only gifts we ever saw were packages that came via the postman. I don't know where they hid gifts for 7 kids until Christmas morning, but Christmas eve always looked bleak under the tree and on Christmas morning it was almost impossible to walk into the living room ... presents were EVERYWHERE!

    I do remember one tradition though ... we never had a fireplace. And you know how the story goes, Santa comes down the chimney ... blah, blah, blah.

    My oldest brother challenged that theory with my parents one year and they came up with the "Spare Key for Santa" ploy.

    My mother found this really old skeleton key at some flea market. She cleaned it up and painted it gold. Every year she would address an envelope to the North Pole and make a big deal about giving it to the postman to give to Santa. Of course, the postman was in on the whole plan.

    Then, maybe three days or so after Christmas, Santa mailed the key back. It was always in the pile of mail that my parents left on the hall table.

    Sneaky, huh? But it worked!

  4. You are asking a Jew for advice? *L* Simple. This is what I used to do for my kids.

    I would wrap a few small things and leave them under the tree, for the divine torture of it all. Nothing huge. Dollar store stuff, while they were young enough for me to get away with it.

    Then, the "santa gifts" would always show up, wrapped, but in completely different paper than the ones that I tortured them with for weeks! Always something foil like, in golds or reds without all the poofy snowman designs. No gift tags on them. It was simply presumed that whatever was in the shiny boxes came from Santa.

    This is the first year in our new bought home...and sadly, the first year that my son stopped believing in Santa. That sucks. He's 11. I am grateful I had him believing it for this long. My daughter who is now 20? I had her going until 12. Oh well. What do you want from a woman who called her Christmas tree a Channukah bush for years, just to justify its existance to her own mother?


  5. Can't you put the presents etc out after Bella's asleep?

    I did the carrot thing also when I was a kid.

    All of our presents were wrapped - but I remember one year I got a toy kitchen (I had to be about 7 or so) - and Santa left a note that Daddy would finish putting it together in the AM - (Apparently it was a pain in the @**@! to put together!)

  6. At my house, Santa wrapped some presents and left some unwrapped. And the wrapped presents said "From Santa" on the tag. And yes, Santa always ate some of the cookies and drank some of the milk. And one year, I believe I remember my dad griping about all that reindeer poop on the roof that he had to clean up!

  7. When I was a little girl, big presents (think Bella's doll house) were NOT wrapped up, neither were bikes or whatever one or two really "big" presents we got. EVERYTHING else is wrapped. That is still the way i do it with my own kids...adds to the excitement IMO

  8. Great blog!! As a mom of two boys, I love it -- I'll be back!

  9. Santa never wrapped the presents he left me - how could he possibly wrap ALL the presents in the world? That would be inconceivable! ;)

  10. Santa photos were fun. Ashley never cried, but always looked like someone had told her her dog had died.

    Santa gifts were and still are unwrapped. Ashley is 24 and has yet to inform me that Santa does not exist.

    The all-time worst gift was "Barbie's Dream House," a dollhouse that took 3 civil engineers 2 weeks to assemble. The box said it could be assembled in 2 hours.

  11. We always knew the story of Santa, but our parents never used him as a gift giver. We knew our parents wrapped and gave us our presents. They always told us that Santa was a nice old man that gave out presents to needy children centuries ago and that people kept the story going until today. My sister's have told the same thing to their nieces.

    We saw the movies and read the books, had our picture taken on his knee, but just knew that it was a story like many other myths that are handed down through the years.

    Our parents were very practical about Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy:o) I can't say that it ruined anything, we always focus on Jesus' birth at Christmas and I can't say that I missed anything as a child either.

  12. Oh, about the threatening, we got the line "If you don't behave you will get a stocking full of horse apples"!!!

  13. When I was a kid, ALL the "Santa gifts" appeared magically around the tree on Christmas morning, unwrapped and fully assembled. As a family of seven we had plenty of wrapped gifts from each other to open. Santa also filled the stockings with nuts, candy and a few small gifts (there HAD to be a perfect orange in the toe). Our tradition was stockings first, then the tree extravaganza.

    The best thing? On Christmas Eve, my father would sneak out of the house just before midnight and shake jingle bells outside our bedroom windows. He'd also throw *something* up on the roof a few times to make thuds. At least one of us would wake up enough to hear the sounds and KNOW Santa was at work! We didn't dare get up, because my parents told us if anyone "caught" Santa, he'd disappear - and so would all the presents. But just hearing those sounds was assurance that Santa was really there.

    I'm still not 100% certain Santa doesn't exist.

  14. Santa gifts have always been wrapped at our house (with the exception of a horse or two -- they were beribboned but there's no way to adequately gift-wrap a horse!) and he's always used his own wrapping paper. We found a HUGE roll of paper when our first granddaughter was little and Santa has always used that paper at her house and ours. It will probably last until the girls have kids of their own. The oldest now knows (kind of) the truth about Santa, but she's been carrying on a 3-4 times per year correspondence with him for 6 or 7 years and has yet to figure out where those letters come from. She even has pictures from the Claus' vacations.

    Don't wear yourself out trying to make Christmas what you think it should be. No matter what you do, Bella will always remember her Christmases as magical and perfect, just because they happen in a house full of love.

  15. She is just the cutest freakin' kid on the planet, I swear. Happy belated T-day.

  16. I see others have covered the wrapped vs. unwrapped presents from Santa. For crying out loud though, MAKE SURE Bella doesn't find the "Santa" paper hidden in the attic during the year. You're right, kids remember EVERYTHING. The only thing I can add is something we did when our daughter Katie was Bella's age.... take an old LARGE boot and use it as a stencil on the carpet while sprinkling baking soda around it. I took this to an almost art form with freshly vacuuming the carpet in the living room where the tree was and working backwards from the tree, placed the right boot, sprinkled the baking soda on and around it, then carefully lifting it, backing up a step, and placing the left boot and sprinkling that one. Repeat to the entry to the room. Since Santa is magic it stands to reason that even with no snow outside, he brought some from the North Pole. Enjoy this time with Bella! They are little for such a short time. P.S. How are the new puppies doing?

  17. Our Santa gifts were always wrapped with paper different from the rest. My parents never liked the idea that Santa gets all the glory of giving the kids what they REALLY want, so the Santa gifts were never the big special ones.

    We got to open one present on Christmas Eve, and it was always new Christmas pjs to wear so that when we woke up in the morning we'd be wearing cute, new jammies for all the pictures.

    We also did the cookie/milk/ carrot thing which was pretty standard. My parents would also lay down a sheet or something under/near the tree saying they wanted to protect the floor from the tree needles or something and then would dip big boots in the fireplace ash and make tracks over to the tree, to the cookies and back. Often times the reindeer would also "lose" a jingle bell or 2 on the roof next to the 1/2 eaten carrots. Sometimes there was glitter up there to add to the magicness of it all, too.

  18. I still believe in Santa. That is just how I am.

    First of all...there are cookies, milk, carrots and reindeer food. Yes, reindeer food. That would be some oatmeal and lots of glitter. That means you got outside just before bed and sprinkle it all over the lawn. If it's snowing, it great with the glitter...but it works on grass too.

    You also then write a letter to santa that gets left with the cookies, milk, and carrots. Santa always writes back, and usually in odd handwriting with a message about being nice.

    Then you finally go to bed. YOu always seem to hear mysterious jingle bells at some point.

    When you wake up, there are rules. YOu MUST wake up MOm and Dad first and the sun MUST be coming up. If it's still dark, they have the power to make you lay in bed again.

    Once allowed out of bed, you are only allowed to open your stocking. You get to open your stocking and go crazy with whatever is in it until mom and dad get their coffee and camera and put on the same christmas tape they have played for 20 years.

    Santa always, always wraps his gifts in santa paper. Santa has special paper with pictures of Santa on it.SO you always know which presents came from santa. And they are usually piled all together.


    There is more, but I'm tired just thinking about it.

    Oh, and the really big gifts usually were placed in front of the santa paper pile