Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ho Ho Ho

I'm just waiting for Q's meds to kick in before heading off to bed, thought I'd drop a few lines here.

We saw Santa last night. It's been a yearly occurrence since G was 5 mos old. I almost quit after life blew up, but decided that the (Herculean) effort was necessary. The kids were losing so much that was familiar, I didn't want them to look back and see that that year, along with losing their family, every little thing went off the rails.

So last year, when picking Q up off Santa's lap, Santa, tearing up, commented on how lovely a family we were, how clearly and greatly Q was loved. I smiled and said thank you and even managed to walk away instead of falling to the ground sobbing, as it sometimes feels like I'm about to when we get compliments on our lovely family. (Call me crazy, but the irony of a compliment on the sweetness of our obviously incomplete group sometimes seems nearly too much to overcome. It feels a little too much like an O. Henry story gone wrong. Shudder.)

When I announced we were going, G announced that he didn't want to do it this year, crying foul because I'd told him last year that he wouldn't have to do this again. It's true. I did. Then E got out Grandma's Santa pics and well, I changed my mind. I told him so, he wanted to argue. I called him over to where I was feeding Q and told him to remember that this isn't about him. Some things aren't. He giggled (he still does, sometimes). I said, "I have just one question for you. What are you going to say when Q demands to know why there aren't any more Santa pictures after 2007?" G said not a word, but returned a few minutes later wearing clean, less than usually rumpled clothes (he's that age and I'm not dying on that hill). I told all the big kids that they could wear whatever they wanted, but it had to be clean and not clashing (this part turns out to be open to interpretation). So they weren't dressed up (not dying on that hill either). I wanted happy faces.

Over the years, one comes to expect the unexpected in such undertakings. We've had cranky elves, way too happy elves, lines that lasted more than two hours, and no queue at all. Last night's line wasn't too bad. About half an hour of chatting, window shopping, and a change of Q's drooled upon sweater we were ready to roll. Santa was great, except for the minor numbness he seemed to be experiencing in his left arm. I'm still wondering if he went on to end his evening with a heart attack. But I digress.

Q couldn't take his eyes off Santa. In 2006, we solved that problem by having everyone look at Santa and all his rosy red and whiteness. This year, though, the photo people were determined, and Santa cracked jokes while they worked. We ended up with a decent shot of Q looking off to the side, at me. Snort. Santa did the requisite asking after Christmas wishes and we humored him. (S had said she didn't want to go because he was just a fake Santa and no one's seen the real Santa in several hundred years -- since he threw dowries down chimneys. Her older sibs talked her into compliance. Snort.)

We thanked the nice man and headed off to look at our nice pictures, Q draped over my arm. The lady came out with the package I'd ordered and showed me the sweet faces. She handed it to me. As I was turning to ask the kids to hand me my purse from Q's chair, she said, so quietly, "And it's on us." I was stunned. I'd seen the elves watching us while we were in line and wondered about what I thought might have been the pursing of their little candy cane-stained mouths. I may have actually said to her, "No way." I know I managed to whisper a shocked but emphatic thank you and turn around before beginning to sniffle. I'm pretty sure the kids noticed me wiping tears, but they didn't say anything.

What does one say? Sometimes, when coming from a preschool evaluation (more on that later), when tired beyond words, when working to repress being heartsick still at the implications of certain realities, it's just an awesome thing to have a little bit of a Christmas miracle with the mall Santa.

"Kiss those babies." --Dy

"And the one you made 'em with." --me



sleepy jeanne said...

Lovely. Just lovely. :-)


Melanie said...

Sometimes its a nice surprise how cool people can be! Doesn't happen very often these days so cherish the moment!

Dy said...

Oh. Oh, as if last year's story wasn't enough. You're going to end up with an entire photo album of things that make Mothers BAWL LIKE BABIES!

Wow. How beautiful.

annie said...

how have i mothered so long and not heard "i'm not dying on that hill" before now? excellent! stealing phrase from you and thinking of this daily with the three teenage boys testing my resolve and judgement! thanks!

therextras said...

Good one.