Rules Are Meant To Be Broken

So I broke my own rule this year.

You might remember when I posted about My Christmas last year. And also when I ruined a lot of little boys’ and girls’ dreams when I told them Santa Isn’t Real.

If you’re new here and too lazy to go read those posts, because I totally sympathize with anyone who has the lazy virus (yes, I made it up, but I also think it’s a real thing — upcoming post on that later), in short I explain that I hate Santa. Not really, but I don’t tell my son that Santa is real, Santa doesn’t bring him presents, there is no magic on Christmas other than the real magic of love and family and Momma finding ways to pull money out of thin air because she goes way too overboard with gift-giving.

At least, that’s how it used to be. Until that jolly old bastard forced his way into my life.

Stern Santa

Photo Credit: LadyDragonflyCC – >;< / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 / (cropped)

I have never, not once, not ever, encouraged a belief in Santa. But that bitch is everywhere. Every time anyone talks to my son, they ask him if he’s excited for Santa to bring him presents. They ask him what he wants from Santa. They tell him he better be good or Santa won’t come. They lie, because Santa ain’t bringing shit and Momma is going to get Holden way too many presents no matter how bad he is because she’s a sucker. So I tried not to lie.

I tried not to lie not only for my own selfish reasons (I wanted the credit, I didn’t feel like dealing with my son’s devastation when he found out the truth, etc.) but for the world. I don’t like the concept of Santa for many reasons, but some of them are kind-hearted. I don’t like the concept of Santa because what happens when one kid gets the pony he asked for but another doesn’t even get the pair of socks she wanted? Is Santa mad at her? What happens when rich parents buy their daughter a whole room’s worth of presents but poor parents can’t even afford to give their son a decent meal? Did Santa forget about him? What happens when the really bad kids get all sorts of stuff but the super sweet and kind children get little to nothing? I’ll tell you what happens — the super sweet and kind kids think they weren’t sweet and kind enough and become broken, while the really bad kids realize that they can get away with whatever the hell they want, because Santa is a pushover.

I know there are a lot of systems in place to make sure some of those things don’t happen. Toy drives and food banks and the like. And that’s wonderful, and I’ll talk more about that in a moment. But, what happens when a child’s world is turned so upside down that they don’t want toys or clothes or food? What if they want their sick mother to get better, or their deceased father to come back, or for their brother to stop coming into their room at night, or to have a home bigger than a cardboard box? What does Santa do then? There are some pretty amazing people in the world who have just the right thing to say to these kids to restore their hope, but sadly not every child gets paired up with such a person. Sometimes, kids won’t even tell an adult that these are their wishes so no one even knows, but Santa knows because they wrote a letter to the North Pole. I just think that “Santa” should be more realistic, more attainable. I don’t know how Saint Nick turned into a fat man in a red suit shimmying down chimneys to leave everyone a puppy, but what if Santa was more of an idea than an actual person?

Instead of having that image in their heads, we could tell children that Santa was a helping hand. A kind stranger. A welcomed friend. That family member who took you in for the night so you could have a home-cooked meal and a roof over your head, that’s Santa. That stranger who donated a toy so a needy child somewhere would have something to unwrap on Christmas, that’s Santa. The friend who gives you their kids’ old coats and shoes, that’s Santa. The teacher who takes extra time to really listen and speaks those words I talked about one paragraph up, that’s Santa. Anyone who keeps the hope alive, those people are the Santa I want my son to know about. It doesn’t have to be any less magical just because it’s real. Reality is filled with the best kind of magic, sometimes you just have to look a little harder to find it.

And I did find it this year, which is why my grinch heart grew ten sizes and I broke all the rules I just spent 800 words telling you about.

At first everything was going according to plan. My son and I had a little talk and I was like “You know Santa isn’t real, right? He’s just pretend. But you can’t tell anyone because some people think he’s real, so it’s a secret.” and my son was like “Yeah! Okay!” and everything was good. We went to a Christmas parade later that night with Holden’s best friend and her parents and Santa was there but we didn’t feel like waiting in the ridiculously long line to meet him so while the adults were discussing it Holden mentioned that Santa was just pretend and that Mommy got all his presents and I had to remind him that he had to be quiet about it because Sylvia didn’t know about the secret but thankfully she was far enough away that she didn’t hear anything.

Then the next day I was telling Jack about how proud I was that Holden was so cool with the whole thing, but Jack doesn’t agree with me and wants Holden to believe so he wasn’t convinced and called Holden over to ask him if Santa was real or not. Holden said he was. I was confused. I asked him a few things and did a Homer Simpson’s “Doh!” (which pretty much means I’m so stupid for those of you who have lived on Pluto for the past 20 years) when it became very obvious that there was no way for me to have kept it real. In an above statement I said “that bitch is everywhere” and I was not lying. There are Santa decorations on people’s houses and in stores. There are Santa shows and movies on TV. That fucking elf (which I will have no part of, even if does make me a horrible parent and destroy my son’s sense of wonder) is even in his school, which I think is horrible because what about the other religions? But that can be addressed later. In the end, I came to the conclusion that he really wanted to believe in Santa, so I decided not to be that asshole parent who fights with her kid over his imagination. I decided to let him believe.

I’ve still never uttered the words “Santa is real” and if Holden ever asks me I’m going to tell him the truth. And it was difficult to find some sort of middle ground where I don’t feel like I’m lying to my kid but I’m also letting him relish in these childhood moments that he obviously wants.

I didn’t find it. Over the next week I realized there was no way I couldn’t lie. There’s still a part of me that doesn’t like it, but we’re having fun so I guess it’s okay? I don’t know. I’m still torn. I guess I’m like Darth Vader (speaking of which, STAR WARS amirite?! I haven’t seen it yet but I plan to on Tuesday or Wednesday so SHUT YOUR WHORE MOUTHS about anything that happens), because he is good (and realistic) but then he turns to the Dark Side for a long time but he still holds on to some of the light for his son that makes its way through and saves everyone in the end. Except for himself. I hope I don’t have to sacrifice myself when it comes time to stop this charade. I’d be all “Holden, I am your mother. Santa is a ruse. Run child, save yourself!” because obviously all of the elves would be riding the reindeer and shooting candy canes at my Death Star’s hole. That much sugar isn’t good for anyone.

I’ve gotten way off course so let’s bring it back. We left off at Over the next week:
my son decided he wanted to write Santa a letter. So I helped him. He first asked for Santa to bring his friend Sylvia presents, then said he would like a “Transformer Optimus Prime that turns into a truck”. That’s when I knew I’d made the right decision. Because any kid who puts his friends first and only asks for one thing deserves to believe whatever they want. That’s also when I realized I’d have to make another trip to the toystore even though I had previously thought all my shopping was done.

Then my mom wanted to take Holden on The Santa Express, a train in my area that goes 45 minutes in one direction, makes about a 20 minute stop so you can explore, then goes back another 45 minutes in the other direction. Doesn’t sound too exciting but I forgot to mention that Santa himself, and some of his elves, are on the train. Plus it’s an old, cool train. Holden loves trains and Santa and elves and had never ridden a train before or met Santa (except for in those mall pictures I forced him to take) so it seemed pretty freaking perfect, actually. And according to my mother, it was.

Holden brought his letter and they sat in the Cafe car at actual tables in actual chairs and snacked and played with a Christmas Rubik’s cube (that I’ve since hidden because fuck those things). Then Santa and the elves walked down the train and met with, talked to, and spent time with every single person. It wasn’t a quick hi-hello-snap-a-shot-goodbye — “Holly” the elf came first and spent a good long while talking to Holden and waiting him out while his shyness subsided, then Santa sat down with him and read his letter and watched him coloring and talked to him about Christmas, and then my mom took a picture.

Santa and Holly the elf

When I was typing the description for this, I put “Seawhore” instead of “Seashore” and I think that’s what we should call it from now on.

Holden got home and was very excited to tell me all about it. So, I think possibly being attacked by killer candy cane-wielding elves and their reindeer counterparts is worth it.

And over the next week he’d ask me if the elves were done making his present or if Santa had come yet and other various questions that were based on a lie, and I answered them all, according to the lie. (I did not, however, tell him that Santa wouldn’t bring his present if he was bad. I told him I’d beat him with a shoe and lock him in the closet.) (Just kidding, jeez. I told him that I would give his presents to someone else. Even though we all know I won’t. But he already knows I’m a sucker, I don’t want him thinking the same thing about this mythical creature of his.)

You’d think I’d be done by now, but I’m not.

Remember my last two posts talking about the James Garfield Miracle over on The Bloggess? It’s where people who are in need and people who want to make a difference all come together and make magic happen. See, there’s that real magic I was talking about before. The kind people who helped gift I-don’t-even-know-how-many children (and some adults and fur babies) are the real Santas. And the people who were gifted know that. There were so many praises to their “Santas”, “Secret Santas,” “Elves,” and “Angels” it was heartmelting. (That’s my new favorite term, by the way.)

I had originally gone there to tell Jenny (aka The Bloggess) how amazing she was and had hoped to purchase someone a small gift, spend maybe $20 or less. Then I realized my stepkids needed help so I asked for it. Then things turned around and I was blessed (for lack of a better term) to be able to get my stepchildren really cool gifts (not the main, big one they both wanted, but still awesome gifts nonetheless) and give back and help the tribe.

While searching through the lists to figure out exactly who to help and what to get them, I saw a woman post that her son had asked for a Flash costume, but he wasn’t expecting to receive it because “Santa can’t make superheroes”. I had to get it. Not only because it reminded me so much of my son, but because of that word — can’t. I wanted to scream from the rooftops “SANTA CAN DO ANYTHING” and I don’t even believe, or want my child to believe. Where was this coming from?

I got her son the costume and her daughter a poster and added a gift message — “Santa can do anything if you believe. So can Mommy. She’s the real superhero.”

So I broke my own rules. But my son is happy and I am happy and a bunch of other parents are happy and so many kids will be happy on Christmas morning. Love, guys. That’s what Christmas is about. And I love each and every one of you. So if you still believe in Santa, or insist on teaching your kids he’s real, that’s fine with me.

My Christmas

I’m going to tell you about my Christmas.

I’m not religious. At all. Whatsoever. I’m actually agnostic. It’s not that I hardcore don’t believe, but, well, I don’t believe either. If that makes sense.

In other words, I’m not ruling out that there is a god. Maybe there is. It is a possibility, yes. But I haven’t experienced this god, so I don’t believe. Yet. Maybe I will someday, maybe not. But right now I simply don’t.

I don’t have anything against you if you believe. I think it’s great — I think religion can be life-saving for many people. Just don’t try to push your beliefs on me and we’ll be the best of friends.

I’m not religious but I celebrate Christmas.

Why? Is it for tradition, or family, or the love in the air?

No. It’s for the motherfucking presents.

There, I said it.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I still have traditions and still enjoy the love in the air. But really, I simply adore to give my loved ones presents. And I know I can do this any time of the year, but I choose to do it on Christmas.

I’m one of those people you hate, because I’ve turned your sacred holiday into a consumerism one.

And you know what? That’s my prerogative. That’s how I do things.

I like shopping for my son (and others) and hiding the presents and wrapping the presents and seeing the look of joy on his (and others’) face(s) when he (and they) tear into the wrapping paper. I like wasting paper, since we just throw it out anyway. I like spending too much money and getting shit people don’t need, because when else are they going to get it?

Before I had my own family, my Christmas used to be about family. Going here and going there and waking up at the asscrack of dawn and rushing out of the house without my coffee.

I hated it. I hated fitting in every single person in one damn day. I hated sitting there, poor, watching them open gifts from every single other person but me. I hated the awkwardness of seeing people I hadn’t for a year and telling them what I was up to and getting judgmental glances.

So I stopped it. That may make it sound like Christmas is for me, but it’s not. It’s for my son.

I celebrate Christmas to spoil my son with everything he doesn’t need and everything he wants, which may or may not involve seeing a few other family members as well, on our own time.

This is my Christmas.

My Christmas is going out on Black Friday, because why shop on another day if I’ll probably find better deals on this one?

My Christmas is donating one (or more) of those toys to a toy drive for kids in need.

My Christmas is going through all of my son’s old toys and donating half of them, too.

My Christmas is waiting to get a tree until the middle of the month, because why keep that enormous thing in the house for more than two weeks?

My Christmas is slowly, over the course of a month, wrapping way too many presents and keeping them hidden from my toddler and somehow finding places for them all under the tree.

My Christmas is waking up whenever the hell we wake up — sometimes early, sometimes late — and opening our presents immediately.

My Christmas is taking some time to let my son play with his new stuff, and enjoying it with him.

My Christmas is realizing that so many other people don’t have it as good as we do, and hoping for them that some day soon they will.

My Christmas is then, after we’re settled with all our nice new stuff, calling our family to see if they want to see us (if we’re not too late).

My Christmas is materialistic. I admit it. But it’s also about my family. Not yours. Not your traditions, not your religion. It’s mine.

Ironically, this is not my photo. (Photo Credit: Alain Matthes / texexample (CC BY 2.5)

Ironically, this is not my photo.
(Photo Credit: Alain Matthes / texexample (CC BY 2.5) )

Mini-Post Mondays: Nate, Ring, Meds, Christmas, War

mini post

Nate

So, as I mentioned, Nate got my letter. He took it rather well over the phone, but his letter was pretty angry. Which was to be expected. I don’t really know what to say about it, but we have a lot to work on and I have full confidence that we’ll pull through this. He’s asking more of me and I’m willing to give more. He needs to work on his trust issues and I have to work on my intimacy issues. But the simple fact that we’re both willing to work on anything has me in good hopes.

*  * *  *  *

Ring

Of course, during all of this mayhem with Nate, I got my ring (photo included in that post). My dad got it for me for Christmas, but it’s symbolizing my engagement to Nate. I’m not sure where we stand on that front, but I’m wearing it regardless because I still have hope that we’ll be okay and in my heart I’m still going to marry him.

On a side note, I am so excited about it.

*  *  *  *  *

Meds

My new mix of meds doesn’t seem to be working too well. I mean, I think the antidepressant (Effexor) and mood stabilizer (Abilify) are working, but the anxiety med (Buspar) doesn’t seem to be doing anything. It actually got so bad the other day I went to the hospital and they gave me a few days’ worth of Xanax, but they’re all gone already (took the last one today) so I’m not looking forward to the next month and a half until I see my psych again. I really want to avoid another hospital visit but I don’t know if I’ll be able to. I just don’t want them to think I’m drug-seeking, because I’m not. I just want to fucking feel better.

*  *  *  *  *

Christmas

We got our Christmas tree yesterday but haven’t started decorating yet. I also started wrapping presents but ran out of wrapping paper. At least I’m getting things done, one step at a time. My main goal this week is to go through all of Holden’s toys and get rid of a bunch to make room for all the new stuff he’s getting, because he’s getting a lot.

*  *  *  *  *

War

I was going to write a whole post on this, but so many others of you have expressed it far better than I could, so I’m just going to throw this out there:

THERE IS NO WAR ON CHRISTMAS.

The end, period. Saying “Happy Holidays” is just a nicer way to include everyone in the world, and all of the holidays during this time. So get off your damn high horse.

*  *  *  *  *

Don’t forget to link up your own Mini-Post Mondays to the Mini Mondays page!

Mini-Post Mondays: Not Much, Potty-Training, Christmas, Spam

mini post

Not Much

I don’t have much to report this week. I’ve still been feeling blah, and my letter for Nate just went out today so I’m super paranoid about that (but he did call yesterday, so yay), but the weather was so nice today I forced Holden to get outside with me, so that was nice. Now it’s starting to rain. Seems fitting.

*  *  *  *  *

Potty-Training

Holden’s doing great potty-training. At first he had to be naked in order to remember to go; now he’s upgraded to wearing pants and has only had a couple accidents. I’m very proud of him, especially for doing this all on his own.

*  *  *  *  *

Christmas

Yes, I am one of those people who goes out on Black Friday. I don’t care much about Thanksgiving and I figure if I’m going to have to go out to the store, I might as well go on a day when I’m most likely to save. So I went and now all of my Christmas shopping is completely done which is exciting but kind of sad at the same time. Now I have to wait almost a whole month to give them to everyone.

*  *  *  *  *

Spam

I guess this is a new feature of Mini-Mondays, where I show you the most absurd spam comments I get.

The first one is a normal spam comment I get all the time, but it’s funny because of the post on which it was made:

Do you have any video of that? I’d love to find out more
details.

on my post Nipple Challenge. Yes, of course I’m sure you’d love to see a video of that, you perv spammer.

The second one is funny only because, well, you’ll see:

Do you have a spam problem on this blog; I also am a blogger, and I was wanting to know your situation; many of us have created some nice procedures and we are looking to swap solutions with other folks, be sure to shoot me an email if interested.

Like, really? You’re going to spam me with a comment asking if I have a spam problem? Yeah — it’s you!

*  *  *  *  *

Anyway, that’s all for Mini-Post Monday this week. Don’t forget to link up your own posts!

Manic Holidays

The last time I was really, truly experiencing a full-fledged manic episode was about this time last year.

Since my diagnosis I’ve been able to look back and understand what was going on. Back then I had no idea.

There are “yard sale” pages on Facebook. It’s kind of like Craigslist, but some are only for certain towns, other for certain items, and it’s just all much easier and more legit and less murdery than Craigslist. I adore yard sales and good deals and secondhand items, so of course I started doing all of my holiday shopping on these Facebook Yard Sale pages.

I got really into it. Really, really into it. I spent every waking moment scouring through the postings trying to be the first one to comment “INTERESTED!” so I could get my son everything he never even dreamed. I got a scooter for three dollar. Three dollars. He still rides it.

Things were going splendidly. I mean, Jack and my dad weren’t exactly happy that I was spending all my time online and all my money on shit my son didn’t really need, but I found such good deals they were also somewhat proud of my mad bargaining skills.

Then I became increasingly aware of families in need. You may not recall, but there were a lot of fires in South Jersey last winter. So many unfortunate families lost everything right before the holidays. There were posts begging people to give anything they could, even just a pair of socks. I gave what I could, when I could.

Then the posts got more specific. Eight-year-old girl, four-year-old boy, nine-month-old baby; girl likes this and that and boy likes that and this and baby needs whatever. So I started searching not only for me, but for them. I found a great deal on a shitload of The Littlest Pet Shop pets and homes and case for ten dollars. I bought it for one of the little girls. I went to Five Below and bought one of the boys a toy train for five dollars. I gave away all of Holden’s baby stuff I had held onto for no apparent reason.

In the midst of all this, a friend of mine reached out. She had been having a very hard time financially and was afraid she wouldn’t be able to provide a proper Christmas for her children. I went into full gear at this point. I made post after post about how I knew families in need; I started collecting donations; I would drive up to an hour away to pick up a bag of clothes or a box of toys. Now I was spending every waking minute online, driving, and sorting through the mountains of crap collecting in my basement.

I was obsessed. I would stay up until 4am searching for the perfect postings on the Facebook pages, afraid to miss anything good. I would then wake up at 9am and immediately rush out the door to meet someone. One time I had the car so packed I was literally sitting on top of a bag to make enough room for me.

Holden never saw me. Whenever I was home I was in the basement, sorting through all the donations I had received, separating clothes by size and toys by family. I was supposed to be attending college at the time, but my self-made / self-run charity quickly overtook any responsibility I had to anything else.

My best friend’s mom also experienced a fire, and I drove several towns away in the middle of the night during a snowstorm to pick up a couch for her. I then kept the couch in the bed of my truck, covered with tarps, for weeks until she was able to move it into her apartment.

I cared about everyone else far more than I cared about my own well-being.

After Christmas, once most of the families had everything they needed, I crashed. And I crashed hard. I didn’t get out of bed for two weeks. I didn’t check my computer or play with my son or do my homework or even make food. There was no point to my existence.

Once I went back online, I had several livid messages from people who I had told I might be able to help. When I first felt the crash coming on, I had told mostly everyone that I was dealing with personal stuff and would do the best I could, but would be dialing it back for a while. They didn’t care. One of them attacked me for trying to sell some of my own stuff, instead of giving everything I own to needy families. Another cyber-yelled at me for hours because I wasn’t able to help a family she knew. More and more people were coming out of their hiding places blaming me for all of their problems.

That’s when I decided to stop. By this point I could barely handle my own thoughts, let alone others unloading all of their crap onto me.

Now I still have a basement full of stuff and, a year later, haven’t managed to sort through any of it. When I said my crash was hard, I meant it. I suffered the longest depression I have ever known, and am just now beginning to pull out of it.

And now I know. I know that the holidays are a trigger that can send me into mania. I know I can go overboard and I know I’ll put others before myself and I know I’ll crash again, and I can’t afford to do that anymore.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters is coming to pick up some of the bags in my basement next Saturday. I’m slowly chipping away at the pile of mess, at my own pace. I’m still offering to people in need, so long as they do things on my terms. I want to help, but I sometimes have to put my own health first.

Sometimes I have to be the one in need.