Last night, our town held its annual Christmas lighting. My foggy, sleep-deprived mind had forgotten about it until Little Guy and I went into town to run an errand and saw the blockades in the street. We postponed the errand and went back home to dress for the bitter cold, in order to return for the festivities.
We got there too late for Little Guy to see Santa. We made it in time for cocoa, cookies, and the procession down the street behind Santa. While waiting for the procession to start, Little Guy suggested that he tell Santa what he wanted while we waited. I told him it wasn’t the right time. The procession began, and we had to follow him as closely as possible. LIttle Guy bickered with me over where and how we walked. I did not feel cheerful. I felt the opposite of that.
Everything feels different this year, and I miss Ex seeing Little Guy’s delight in the magic of Christmas. Ex talked me into starting the Santa tradition with LIttle Guy. If it weren’t for Ex, I wouldn’t have sold the Santa deal to LIttle Guy. I just feel like I’m lying to him. When I tell him the truth, it will mean more to LIttle Guy that his dad wanted to carry on this tradition. For now, I just feel like a liar.
We got to the center of town still on Santa’s heels. I suggested we find a place on the outskirts of the crowd in order to see the lighting better. We got on a ledge where we could see everything when it lit up.
After the lighting, Santa always goes to a nearby establishment so he can hear more material pleas from children. Since LIttle Guy wanted to get his chance to tell Santa about his list, he hopped off the ledge and headed toward a building without looking back or waiting for me. I jumped down behind him, caught the toe of my boot on a rock and fell. I was fine, but hurt inside that my sweet boy had run off with only his Christmas list on his mind. I followed behind LIttle Guy by a few strides until he got to the building and realized I wasn’t with him. He started pulling on me, and I shook him off. I said how upset I was that he didn’t wait for me, that I fell, and he didn’t care.
We waited inside for Santa to show up. I loathed everything I felt inside, opposite of the warm feelings the holidays should bring. Santa hadn’t shown up yet, so I turned to my eager boy and asked to speak to him outside.
“I have an issue,” I said.
“This is not what the holidays are about. You took off without waiting for me. I fell, and you act like you don’t care. You want to see Santa. I get it. Stuff doesn’t matter. What are the holidays about?” I asked.
“Spending time with family,” he said.
“Yes!” I said. ”I want nothing more than to spend more time with you. That’s what matters. I love you,” I said through my tears.
“I love you, too,” he said said as he hugged me.
“Some kids don’t get anything for Christmas. Some families choose not to give gifts. It isn’t about the stuff.”
“I know, Mom,” Little Guy said.
“Is my face purple?” I asked to add humor.
“No, Mom,” he said.
“Okay, do you want to go back and wait?” I asked.
“Yeah!” he said.
“Even though it’s cold out?” I asked
“Okay,” I said.
We waited in line to see Santa, and I could hardly stand to hear the whining and crying children wanting to see Santa and tell him everything the greedy little hounds want. I sank farther away from that holiday spirit and my toes started hurting from the cold. The family in front of us drank cocoa, expensive cocoa I overheard, and ate cookies because what’s Christmas without hordes of more junk food?
The line to see Santa does not move quickly. LIttle Guy let me know that he would take a while too because he has a long list this year. I told him that he shouldn’t take too long because other people behind us want to see Santa, too. The line moved maybe 8 feet in 20 minutes, and I talked Little Guy into finding other opportunities to see Santa where we didn’t have to freeze. He had cold toes and hands by then and went for it.
We got home and defrosted our toes in some warm towels and decided to play a game. Mid-game, I said, “I’m glad we’re playing a game, instead of freezing to death in a slow line to see Santa. This is way better.”
Little Guy said, “I agree!”