Keep it simple, Santa

For the last several weeks people have been asking me if I’m ready for Christmas.  Usually I answer with a simple yes. The truth is, I don’t start getting ready for it until the day before.

I know – I sound like a guy. But it works for me.

Many years ago I wasn’t like this at all. I used to gear up for the holiday season early, making and buying cards and gifts for almost  everyone I knew. I also spent a fair amount of time and money decorating the house. I did that for decades and each year I’d feel pressured to outdo myself.

Eventually I realized how stressed I was over the self-imposed work I was inflicting and I stopped. Now I don’t send cards at all, and I only buy presents for my kids. Everyone else gets a gift card, if anything. As far as decorating the house goes, my nine year old daughter now loves to do that and surprise us with the results.  Her and her 12 year old brother’s homemade decorations from years past are by far my favourite.

Even Christmas dinner is a piece of cake for me. If we stay home my husband likes to cook, but more often than not we travel to his parents where the whole family meets, and all I do is the dishes.

If it sounds like I’m bragging about being lazy, I’m sorry, but I just can’t help myself. I feel excited about not being anxious and frazzled  during the holiday season like I used to be. Over the last few Decembers I’ve been able to enjoy my time with friends and family in a way I couldn’t before, and I don’t feel guilty about it.

Why? Because I’m not burdening others with anything they don’t want to do, and that includes myself.

Fortunately for me, I lucked out in the mother-in-law department. I love all my in-laws, but my husband’s mother is really special and she’s also everything I’m not. At this time of year she cooks, bakes, decorates and goes all out with the presents.  She seems to love every minute of it, and she makes Christmas day a lot of fun for our family. The topper for me is how she doesn’t care that I’m so lame at what she does so exceptionally well, and she accepts me exactly as I am.

“You don’t need to do everything,” she told me many years ago when I expressed concern that I wasn’t cooking nearly as much as her son. “You have enough to do. If someone else likes to cook and you don’t, let them do it.”

Always busy with a long list of things to accomplish, I loved the idea of not adding to it, and needed no further convincing.

I like to think that even if I didn’t have help, I’d still do my best to keep things at this time of year simple. After all, a Charlie Brown tree, something yummy to eat and the wonderful company of people I love is all I could ever want or hope for.

A stressful holiday season is definitely no longer on my list for Santa. It might have taken me awhile to understand what I really wanted for Christmas, but now that I finally get it, there’s no turning back.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com 

All I want for Christmas

Years ago, as a typical little kid with a toothless grin, I remember the song my friends and I sang with great delight in class: “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.” I thought it was written just for us.

Years later, it’s interesting to see what other memories have stuck with me. I recall being acutely aware that Santa knew when I was bad or good and that I should be good for goodness sake. And I was good, exceptionally good. Until I wasn’t.

When I was bad I imagined him watching me in his crystal ball. You know – the same one the Wicked Witch used in The Wizard of Oz to keep tabs on Dorothy and her trio. Except Santa wouldn’t be cackling, scary and green, he’d be ho-ho-ho-ing, jolly and red.

Why would I be comparing Santa Claus with the Wicked Witch of the East? Perhaps because The Wizard of Oz was my favourite movie and the only time I ever saw it was at Christmas when it was on TV. This was well before the days of video machines and DVD players, so watching it once a year became a cherished annual tradition.

If you think connecting Santa Claus and the Wicked Witch is odd, get this: I was convinced that Father Christmas and God were best friends, or what my daughter would now call BFFs. I feared that if one missed out on my bad behaviour, the other would surely notice and tell his pal. Maybe even over a glass of milk and cookies.

In thinking about what was going through my young, impressionable and narcissistic mind way back when, I wondered what young children were thinking about now, and what thoughts they had about Santa. I was also curious what they might ask him if he showed up in their classroom one day.

So my 11-year-old son and I asked his school principal if we could bring in Santa Tom, a professional Santa Claus, to surprise the Kindergarten kids and invite them to ask him questions on camera. I have no idea what I would have asked him when I was that age, but I’m guessing that much like some of these kids, I would have been far too shy to say anything to him at all.

Yet many others weren’t shy and had some interesting questions for him, ones that had little or nothing to do with presents. Getting a glimpse of Santa through the eyes of these children was a fun experience and not unlike what I go through with my own kids.

To Sam and Daisy, Christmas is the most magical time of year and everything about it is fun – Santa included.

“If you don’t believe in Santa he won’t bring you presents,” I overheard my son counselling his eight year old sister last December.

“Why wouldn’t I believe in him?” she asked with surprise.

“Oh, um, you know,” he replied. “Some kids just don’t for some reason.”

“Well that’s dumb,” she said dismissively.

Fast forward to this year as they embark on another magical Christmas season enjoying traditions and creating memories they’ll likely confuse with other recollections as I have done.

In the meantime, they’ll be doing their best to stay on Santa’s “nice” list, as will I.

To see Santa’s visit with the kindergarten kids please visit LoriWelbourne.com to watch the video.