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November 30, 2009

This morning, as I made the coffee, an enormous 6 point buck wandered through the yard, pausing next to the deck to examine the remnants of my summer vegetable garden before following a doe into the woods. We see deer all the time, although the bucks are not so common. This is the time of year when we catch glimpses of them, but I’ve never seen one so large so close up before. And really, I never get tired of seeing the deer. They are gorgeous creatures.

The day was gorgeous too. Cold, but beautiful. Some of my water aerobics students decided to start walking at the same time as water aerobics met in the summer, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This morning I finally got to join them. Two others showed up, my former violin student (she has decided to take a break because it was frustrating her and she didn’t think she could handle that frustration on top of the frustration associated with her kitchen renovation) and K, who brought her adorable Westie named Dusty. I am particularly fond of Westies, mostly thanks to Rosemary Wells’ McDuff series. Dusty was interested in everything, especially the cocker spaniel we kept running into. A Westie in full alert protective mode is a sight to see. He looks deadly earnest, and yet he’s way too fuzzy and cute to be taken at all seriously, especially his little stub of a tail, which never stops moving. It was a crisp sunny day and we walked fast and long and I came home ready to work on the usual writing project, but also, for a short while, a new one, which has got some wheels turning. The new one has energized the old one, I think. I had a good day.

Later this afternoon, I found myself doing a rapid last-minute shopping trip in order to finish equipping AJ’s advent calendar, which, I suddenly realized, begins tomorrow. Oops. I am so not ready for the holidays. But they’re coming on with a force. The Christmas solicitations have been arriving for a week and Christmas cards won’t be far behind. Most of the neighborhood decorations are up , and the party invitations are starting to roll in, including one for an annual cookie exchange which is great fun, but which requires me to make 6 dozen cookies. I’m thinking of making this recipe from Siren‘s Nacobakmo project. AJ’s marching in our town’s annual Christmas parade on Sunday. Usually I enjoy all of this, but I’m feeling overwhelmed by it this year. I hope I catch on soon.

AJ’s enthusiasm will drag me through. We’ve already started reading his favorite holiday books and he’s been scanning the TV guide for Christmas movies and commenting on his approval and disapproval of holiday decorations as we drive by. In between, he’s been cataloging all his favorite things about Christmas. I’m still trying to figure out where he stands on Santa this year. He was questioning the Tooth Fairy a couple of months ago, but he hasn’t said word one about Santa. I’m pretty sure he’s got some doubts, but I don’t think he wants to know.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. December 1, 2009 12:11 am

    Unfocused Girl is clinging for dear life to the Santa concept. I’d like for her to let it go, but she so desperately wants to believe in magic of any kind that I don’t think it’s going to happen soon. I was sure this would be done by now. I gave up between 5 and 6, I think. But it makes her so happy…

  2. December 1, 2009 8:25 am

    From Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Ma, in _On the Banks of Plum Creek_: “Of course there is a Santa Claus. You are so big now, you know he can’t be just one man, don’t you? You know he is everywhere on Christmas Eve…. He comes down all the chimneys at the same time…. He is everywhere, and besides that, he is all the time. Whenever anyone is unselfish, that is Santa Claus. Christmas Eve is the time when everyone is unselfish. On that one night, Santa Claus is everywhere, because everybody, all together, stops being selfish and wants other people to be happy. And in the morning you see what that has done.”
    I have photocopied this page and plan to carry it everywhere I go for the next few months. I WILL NOT BE BLINDSIDED THIS YEAR! Last year I was caught off guard by the then-4-yo! and just lied “yes”. If either one brings it up this year I plan to be prepared.

  3. freshhell permalink
    December 1, 2009 8:49 am

    As I wrote over the weekend, Dusty (*my* Dusty) has decided – all on her own – that Santa probably doesn’t exist and the presents just come from her parents. Which makes me sad. She did say she’d continue to “pretend” for Red’s sake. Sigh.

    I also scrambled to update the homemade christmas countdown (know as advent in other, more religious homes) calendar.

  4. December 1, 2009 9:35 am

    I think that if you want to encourage belief, you’ve got to believe yourself.
    When our oldest was about 8, we began recruiting her help filling the cat stockings with catnip mice. Each year we’ve asked her to help filling more stockings (first her grandparents’ and then ours) and by now our youngest (13) is helping squirrel away little surprises to put in everyone’s stockings each year.

    Who says Santa is only “for” children and that he’s made up?

  5. crankygirl permalink
    December 1, 2009 10:08 am

    The buck sounds really impressive.

    Christmas hasn’t really hit NY yet. I’m very glad of that because spending over a month ignoring it is tedious. Although I caught myself on the toilet yesterday trying to remember the words to Adeste Fideles. Anything to help me poo.

  6. December 1, 2009 10:18 am

    Adeste fideles
    laeti triumphantes
    venite, venite
    in Bethlehem.

    Natum videtes
    regum angelorum
    venite adoremus
    venite adoremus
    venite adoremus

    Now you’re set for next time, Cranky. For an encore, i can do “Veni Emmanuel.” Just ask.

    Jeanne, I think you’re absolutely right, and I think that’s why he’s holding on. I remember clearly the Christmas I admitted to myself that Santa didn’t exist. I’ve written about it before here, but the short version is that my brother was that we had just moved overseas and my brother was in the hospital and my mom was staying with him. I didn’t know the details then, but now I know they were concerned he might have lymphoma (he didn’t — just an overactive immune system responding to unfamiliar foreign germs). But I felt the need to try and make it a magical Christmas for my brother, who was 6 and miserable and beginning to have doubts himself. And then doing for others became the point. And that became the secret. AJ will get there too, but not, I hope, this year. I want one more. But freshhell, pretending for my brother changed my role in the whole seasonal drama in a good way. I hope Dusty will see it that way too. But it does make me sad. Jill, I’d forgotten about that passage. That’s a good one. Also good: The Polar Express and “Yes, Virginia.” I’ve got all three of those handy in my house. Siren, when she’s ready to let it go, she will. I do think Jeanne’s idea of providing an alternate channel is a good one. Let her create the magic and she may decide it’s okay to admit her suspicions.

  7. freshhell permalink
    December 1, 2009 10:27 am

    In the past, when there were doubts, I explained that because Santa is so busy, he often has parents help him deliver and set out gifts. She’s also had questions about expensive gifts – why did so-and-so get this DS and she didn’t? I explained that Santa only gives gifts to children that their parents agree to. He knows I don’t want her to have a DS so he won’t bring them. The tougher question, which hasn’t really arisen yet, is explaining the disparity between rich and poor. Why does Santa bring the rich kids more and the poor kids less? Again, she hasn’t noticed this yet but my answer will be that Santa’s magic and goodwill is in all of us to help others. Which is why we participate in the clothing and food drives, why I’ll be buying things for the “adopted family” at work, pajamas for the Scholastic drive, etc. We all have to help spread that feeling.

  8. crankygirl permalink
    December 1, 2009 1:02 pm

    I don’t think I know Veni Emanuel at all–in English, yes, but not Latin.

  9. December 1, 2009 1:29 pm

    I also follow Jeanne’s participation idea. We ALL fill stockings- and have since the kids were toddlers. Youngest first and then they ring our sleigh bells and go to bed. I go last, despite the age 😉 since I have the majority of the filling to do.

    It’ll be interesting this year b/c we’ll be with my sister’s family and her kids have always been told that Santa is a myth and just makes kids believe their parents lie to them about other things too. Any chance we can get through this without permanent damage? Suggestions?

  10. lemming permalink
    December 1, 2009 6:15 pm

    McDuff at Christmas is awesome, awesome, awesome.

    Madeline L’Engle’s “the Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas” has a lot of great ideas about celebrating the period BEFORE Christmas

  11. December 2, 2009 9:51 am

    Jill, I’ve been trying to think of suggestions, but see only two alternatives.
    1. If your sister is amenable, you could provide stockings for your nieces and nephews and your family could fill them. My family has an absolute vow of silence on who put in what, so if kids who have been brought up like your sister’s should ask, who knows?
    2. If your sister is not amenable, enjoy your stockings and let her kids see the rewards of nonbelief.

  12. readersguide permalink
    December 2, 2009 5:00 pm

    It’s definitely true that the loss of Santa Claus was compensated for by then being able to help play Santa Claus. Which is really almost more fun.

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