I Believe in Santa

I Believe in Santa - A Mom recalls how she managed the tricky age of 12 when the existence of Santa Claus begins to be challenged

A Mom recalls how she managed the tricky age of 12 when the existence of Santa Claus begins to be challenged

As a parent, I would often strive at Christmas time to recreate the feelings of anticipation and magic that I had felt as a child, for my own daughter.

 I Believe in Santa - A Mom recalls how she managed the tricky age of 12 when the existence of Santa Claus begins to be challenged

My husband and I were able to, for many years, maintain her belief of Santa Claus. He and I took it upon ourselves to improve on the illusion from one year to the next, even as she grew older, and wiser to our wiles.

Of course the ritual began when she was a pre-schooler, her letters written in her small, unsteady hand. A single, heavily iced cookie in some seasonal shape left on the kitchen table with a glass of milk, both of which would be gone by morning. Standard Christmas procedure required the leaving of a carrot as well; the reindeer could not be forgotten!

We hid presents in the branches of the sparkling, decorated balsam, so the tree’s spicy oils delicately scented the wrapping. Her eyes shone when she’d discover her gifts hidden among the baubles and glitter.

As she got older however, it became more of a challenge for us to convince her that Santa, an imaginary creation, was more than that. We had to come up with sneakier ideas, more creative scenarios, to keep up appearances.

One year we were able to sneak into her bedroom while she slept, remove the quilt that covered her, to replace it with the desired “Lion King” comforter. She had to be coerced back into her bedroom, her excitement was so great that she’d flown out of bed, completely missing the new blanket she’d been snuggly tucked into.

As luck, or fate, would have it, things took on a life of their own that year.

We had always had to be aware of things that interested her, she rarely, if ever, requested anything specific from “Santa”. Generally she’d just been satisfied with whatever she received.

Christmas Eve that year found us enjoying a meal with my parents, who lived some ways out of town. On the late night drive home, I reminded her that she still hadn’t written her letter to Santa.

She laughed at me and made some comment on how ridiculous it was to be doing that at her “mature” age. Her Dad asked that she indulge us this one last time then, just because, “sometimes you have to believe in something”.

Once home she begrudgingly went up to her room to write, while we laid the table. A beer for Santa, (she had decided some years before that he worked way too hard for JUST milk), and the carrot for the deer. She brought the note down and dropped it on the table, hugged us goodnight and returned to her room.

As we read the note we realized that the only request she’d made was a video game system that was popular at the time. A toy we had sworn we would not buy due to its expense. Yet what she didn’t know was that a week earlier we had changed our minds and had purchased the

system, along with a couple of games. One of the games we’d chosen was also on her list. We awoke to her shrieks of joy, dancing around the living room. Thanking us profusely for getting her exactly what she wanted.

I had to question her, however. “What makes you think we bought this?”

“Well who else could have, Mom?” was her slightly sarcastic reply.

I continued, “Consider this; we got home at almost midnight last night. We had no idea what you wanted until you wrote the letter last night, and even if we wanted to, had no way of going out to buy it. What store is open at that time on Christmas Eve?”

She absorbed that for a moment.

“That’s just messed up, Mom. So, Santa’s real.”  She smirked.

“Does it really matter?” I asked.

She smiled a little, ran a finger along the game system.

“No, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes you just have to believe in something.”

Published in Celebrating Christmas PDF Magazine 2012 issue

Making Christmas Special for Your Kids

Making Christmas Special for Your Kids

Do you remember childhood Christmas’ as if looking through rose-tinted spectacles or do you remember Christmas because it really was that special? If you are able to look back fondly, surely you owe it to your children to make their Christmas memories equally ‘cherishable’. The thing is that too many people, especially children, associate Christmas with massive spending and overindulgence and some kids even regard Christmas as a failure if they don’t wake up to the latest Xbox or PlayStation game and this year budgets are stretched further as all kids want the new versions of the console to play them on too. Thank Santa for making sure the consoles aren’t released every year too!

Making Christmas Special for Your Kids
The annual Christmas family picture should be a must!

Change the Mentality and Change for the Better

My siblings and I were brought up to know the real meaning of Christmas and it definitely wasn’t gifts, but I can never accuse my parents of not going all out to make sure I had just as much as my peers. I knew that Christmas, aside from the religious holiday, was about being good to others and the true spirit of the season of good will. I was a child of the 70s so saw Live Aid one year at Christmas and the idea that others were severely less well off than us has never left my mind at Christmas since. It’s thanks to my parents gentle insistence that I should understand the meaning of charity that I look back at Christmas as a special time because of the good I do, which in the great scheme of things, is very little.

Charity Begins at Home – All Time Gratefully Received

Although I believe that good will to all is an important part of Christmas, I still realise that it’s really all about the kids and that’s why I make a special effort to spend as much time with my children doing what they want to do. That used to mean making a fort out of the empty boxes their Christmas presents came in, but today it tends to be sitting with a game controller in my hand and wondering what’s happening with the character I’m supposed to be controlling in the latest Call of Duty or whatever game they are into at the time. However, I always make sure we play at least one board game where we all sit and enjoy each other’s company because that’s one of the special memories I have of my childhood and I want my kids to have those memories too.

The Christmas Trip

I always like to venture out at Christmas for a short while because the streets have a strange atmosphere at Christmas that’s hard to describe, but is almost palpable. Fortunately, my in-laws have moved closer and we walk to theirs for Christmas dinner each year, but before that, I always liked to take in the atmosphere and feel the crisp winter air.

The hours out of the house might stem back from the times when my kids’ had new bikes for Christmas instead of something electronic, or it may just be because Christmas day is one of the great days to be alive? Whatever it is, the family jaunt is a modern tradition that we’ve introduced that is my wife’s and my touch on Christmas. The question is, what will traditions will your kids remember when they grow up?

My Suggestions to Help You Out

If you’re stuck for ideas, I hope some of these are suitable and you enjoy creating your traditions as much as I have ours:

1. Feed Rudolph

We are fortunate enough to live near a country park that has many reindeer and each year, Santa has a grotto with Prancer, Dasher, Vixen Rudolph and co all ready to tuck into whatever root vegetables you can chop an place in a goody bag. A friend of ours lives in the city and they also have something similar, so it might be worth checking out.

2. Decorate your Christmas Tree with secret gifts.

It doesn’t matter if you have a small, large or even an artificial Christmas tree, the decorations make it what it is and we always sneak a present for the kids into the tree. In the past, we’ve used a watch, bracelet and once we placed an envelope with money in it because we were stuck for ideas. The reason we do this is so that after opening all the presents, it’s good to surprise the kids with an extra gift that we must have ‘forgot’. After a few years, the kids always throw a sneaky glance to the tree to see if there’s something else for them there and it’s one of our traditions.

3. The Christmas Picture

We always pose for a family photograph and I suppose this started when I had a camera for Christmas one year and I wanted to ‘test’ the timer function. The mad rush to get in position, smile on cue and the inevitable closed eyes or badly timed smiles always manages to produce a few pictures for Facebook that ensure nostalgia will feature heavily in the minds of my children when they grow up.

Even if you only introduce one or two annual events to your Christmas and stick to them, your kids should grow with similarly find memories to yours. Good luck and have a very merry Christmas in 2013.

About the Author

Shaun Thomas is a father who loves his children and wants every moment together to be special. The trouble is that it’s hard to remember that all through the year, but he believes that’s why Christmas is so special.

Christmas Poem – The Pine Tree Legend

The pine was mortal, once, like other trees
That lift their boughs in the air,
Wearing in summer its green fripperies.
In winter going bare

And desolate of birds.
But that was in an old, forgotten age
Before the words
Of Wise Men stung King Herod to such rage

That his loud armies went
About the land to slay the Innocent.
Then there was consternation and no joy
In Israel. Joseph and Mary, Flying
Into another country with the Boy
Came when the day was dying,
Houseless to the edge of a green wood
Where valorously stood
A needled pine that every summer gave
Small birds a nest.
And half its trunk was hollow as a cave.
Said Joseph, “This is refuge. Let us rest.”
The pine tree, full of pity, dropped its vast
Protective branches down
To cover them until the troops rode past,
Their weapons jingling, toward a different town.
All night it hid them. When the morning broke,
The Child awoke
And blessed the pine, His steadfast lodging place.
“Let you and your brave race,
Who made yourself My rampart and My screen
Keep summer always and be ever green.
For you the punctual seasons shall not vary,
But let there throng
A thousand birds to you for sanctuary
All winter long.”
The story tells us, too,
That if you cut a pine cone part way through,
You find it bears within it like a brand
The imprint of His hand.

Press Poinsettias and Use as Decorations – Christmas Activity for Kids

Pressed poinsettias add the perfect dash of color and holiday cheer to any area. Have the whole family join in to help with this project. The kids will enjoy seeing how the flowers and leaves dry and become flat as well as being able to help with cards and other decorations.

What you will need:

1. Poinsettia plants
2. Scissors
3. Waxed paper
4. Heavy books
5. Decoupage medium
6. Cotton swabs
7. Green fine tipped marker
8. Tweezers

Directions:

1. Cut poinsettia flowers off of the plant at the base of the flower.
2. When you have collected the flower place it upside down on a sheet of waxed paper.
3. Continue doing this until you have gathered all the flowers you want. You may want to also cut a few leaves off the plant to press and dry with the flowers.
4. Place another sheet of waxed paper over the poinsettia flowers.
5. Place several heavy books on top of the flowers so that you can’t see any part of the flowers.
6. Now you will have to wait. It could take anywhere from a couple of days to a week to dry the flowers depending upon how humid the area is.
7. When your flowers have dried completely they are now ready to be used as decorations, following the directions will be a list of possible ways to use the poinsettias, but for now we will continue as if the poinsettia is being used as the decoration for a simple Christmas card.
8. Place the poinsettia and leaves, if you want leaves, on the card and arrange them so that you like how they look.
9. Use the tweezers to pick up the flowers and leaves.
10. Dab a small amount of decoupage medium on the backs of the flowers and leaves with a cotton swab after you have carefully picked them up with the tweezers.
11. Glue them to the paper.
12. Carefully using another cotton swab apply a thin coat of decoupage medium over the top of the flowers and leaves.
13. Add stems or other needed decoration with the green marker.

Other Uses for Pressed Poinsettias:

• Apply the flowers to plain coasters with the decoupage medium.
• Make the flowers into ornaments by pasting them to thin cardboard. Apply the layer of decoupage medium and then cut around the flower. Punch as small hole in the top string ribbon through and tie it so that it forms a loop. For a more glamorous effect, you can also put a bit of glue around the edges and sprinkle on glitter.
• Decoupage the flowers onto a glass vase for a stunning display.
• Paint a plain box or varnish it, then decoupage a single poinsettia to the lid of the box.
• Laminate the flowers, cut them out and use them as a fun window display, as accents on a white tablecloth, or attach ribbon to them and use them as napkin rings.

How to say 'Merry Christmas' in other Languages

Do you know how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in other languages? Wouldn’t it be fun if you did? Here are some ways of saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to all your friends!

English – “Merry Christmas!”

German – “Froehliche Weihnachten!”

Hawaiian – “Mele Kalikimaka!”

Italian – “Bon Natale!”

French – “Joyeux Noël!”

Danish – “Glaedelig Jul!”

Finnish – “Hauskaa Joulaua!’

Brazilian – “Boas Festas!” or “Feliz Natal!”

Portuguese – “Feliz Natal!” or “Boas Festas!”

Spanish – “Felices Navidad!”

Swedish – “God Jul!”

The Christmas Tree – Origin and Legends

People often wonder where the custom of having a tree in the home during Christmas time comes from. We will probably never know for sure. But there are many historical clues that point out where this custom came from.

Thousands or years ago, there were people who believed that evergreen trees were magical. Even in winter, when all the other trees and were brown and bare, the evergreen tree stayed strong and green. People saw the evergreen as a symbol of life and as a sure sign that sunshine and spring would soon return. Candles, or the electric lights we use to decorate our trees today, are also an ancient symbol. They represent the light of spring overcoming the darkness of winter.

So when did the Christmas tree go indoors? Legend has it that the tradition was begun by Martin Luther in Germany. He was a monk and church reformer who lived from 1483 to 1546. According to the legend, Luther was returning home one wintry night when he saw the stars twinkling in the sky through the tree branches. Luther was amazed by the sight, and when he arrived home, he was eager to tell his family about it. To help them understand, he went to the woods and cut down a small fir tree. Luther brought it indoors and decorated it with candles, which represented the stars he had seen. 

The custom spread in Germany, and from there all over the world. In England, the Christmas tree first appeared when Queen Victoria married Albert, a German Prince. In 1841, Albert set up a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle near London to remind him of his homeland. The Christmas tree custom was brought to the United States by people from England as well as by many German immigrants who came in the 1800’s. Whatever its origin, the Christmas tree is a beautiful symbol for everyone who celebrates Christmas.

The Christmas Fairy/Angel – Origin and Legends

The fairy at the top of the Christmas tree was originally a little figure of the baby Jesus. In late seventeenth century Germany this became a shining angel. Windsor Castle’s Christmas trees were topped by a large angel.

In Victorian Britain, little girls would take the angel down after Christmas and dress him in dolls’ clothes. Eventually the angel turned into a thoroughly female fairy, complete with wand.

The transformation was boosted by the pantomimes that became popular in the Victorian era – and, naturally, included a good fairy in the cast.