Last year, this is what happened when Santa walked into the place where we were eating dinner:
One year later, we met Santa at the Pioneer Courthouse Square tree lighting, and this happened:
He's just nonplussed by the whole Santa situation. At least there's no more terror involved. This opens up a topic that I'd love comments on: how does your family handle Santa? We have thoughts on the matter but are unsure how to talk about it with Abe because we don't want him ruining anything for his friends. I'm trying to be purposefully vague here in case any young eyes are seeing this. We love Santa in the Rooney house but are not sure what we want our kids to believe about who brings them presents.
I've always liked the Slovak way: Jezisko (the baby Jesus) brings gifts on Christmas Eve after everyone has eaten the Christmas carp and potato salad. On December 6th, Mikulas (Santa) puts candies and fruit in the boots of children who leave them on their windowsills before going to bed. On December 5th (and sometimes on the 6th too), people will dress up as angels or devils to remind children the consequences of being good or bad. At the school where I taught for four years, one teenager would be a devil, another an angel, and another Mikulas. I recently found out that the angel costume was the old wedding dress of one of the middle-aged vice-principals. This revelation made me all kinds of happy and is a perfect example of why I loved living in Slovakia.
We're trying to figure out what works for our family without getting sucked into the traditions of the culture at-large. We have nothing against the culture-at-large necessarily. We just know how easy it is for kids to start expecting more and more at Christmas, and then we get sucked into the pressure to buy up all we can during the holidays, ending up with a bunch of junk that we'll never use.
I am torn. I like the idea behind Advent Conspiracy a lot. I also really like the idea of having at least something to open on Christmas morning. My parents never gave us anything hugely extravagant, but some of my best holiday memories involve the gifts we got, like the barbie house one year and the small black-and-white tv another. I remember these gifts. In Ted's family, all nine kids had to wait on the stairs until everyone was there and their mom could get a photo. Then and only then could they rush down the stairs to open gifts. This is one of the best collective Rooney memories, which wouldn't have happened if the opening of gifts were not involved.
So we're trying to find a balance. What does your family do at Christmas when it comes to gifts? Do you make your own? If you are participants in Advent Conspiracy, do your kids feel disappointed that they aren't getting many or any gifts? If you are one of those families with the mountain of boxes underneath the tree, what is your rationale for doing so (and I'm not judging--I'm always kind of jealous of you when I go to your holiday parties). Have any of you found a balance? If so, can you tell me how?