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.

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Generosity and Gratitude Part 2

Hey all.

So, you know how people can be asshats? Well, someone was. Which is to be expected, and they didn’t exactly ruin everything, but they did help ruin it. Time was the main culprit, though.

In case you didn’t read my last post, Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess started an event called the James Garfield Miracle six years ago. This year it was still going strong. It’s an event in which people in need or people looking to help all come together in the comments of her post and magic happens. People laugh, people cry, and people probably split their faces open like the joker because of how much intense smiling goes on. There’s also a good chance someone is doing something strange to an animal (not in that way), hiding in a bathtub, making a stabby face, or something else equally outstanding. (Different people, the same person isn’t doing all those things.) (Or maybe it is the same person, but probably not at the same time.) (Actually, it could very well be the same person doing it all at the same time. It’s the internet, we have no idea who’s wearing pants. I think I just got confused.) Because we’re all a bunch of weirdos over there, which is perfect. Also, half of us are possibly drunk and 90% of us are doing a lot of yelling, because even though we’re timid as fuck we’re also very dramatic.

Okay sorry, I went off on a little tangent there. I just get so excited about our “tribe”. I hope to have my own tribe one day… but I don’t think I’d call it a tribe.

Anyway, according to Jenny someone was scamming the kindhearted people. I don’t really know what that means. She mentioned a fake list, so maybe it was someone who didn’t really need help who was pretending to need help to get stuff they didn’t feel like paying for themselves, or to sell to someone else to make money, or.. well, I don’t really know. At first I thought “Well, who cares if they’re lying? If they’re that desperate then they probably really need the money or the stuff or whatever, they just feel like no one would help if they were honest.” But then I remembered this YouTube video in which a guy walks around with money taped to him and carries a sign saying “Take what you need” and a bunch of well-off people take a lot of money and even admit that they don’t need it but a homeless man only takes $2. So maybe someone was scamming us.

Thanks to that person, and because it’s getting so close to Christmas, Jenny has decided to stop allowing people to post their wish lists. However, the lists that people had already posted are still there, so if you’re in the giving mood and have the ability, go check out the comments section and find someone you think is worthy. Even though, seriously, they’re all worthy. If I was rich I probably would have bought every single person every single thing on every one of their lists. But alas, I am not.

In fact, I asked for help myself. My father spoils my son but my stepchildren aren’t as lucky and really, really, really want an electric scooter-type-thing. I think because I only have one expensive thing on my list and then a bunch of gift cards to be able to buy that one thing, people were hesitant to choose me. Which is completely and totally understandable and I don’t blame them, but I super promise I’m not being scammy or shady. I just really want to provide these kids with the perfect present because Christmas hasn’t always been the best of times (it’s when Nate went away, if you recall) and they deserve the world. Two amazing, beautiful souls were kind enough to get me gift cards so I am closer to my goal, but I’m just gonna link to my list in case someone who has the means sees it and wants to help. Please do not feel pressured or donate to me instead of someone else or do anything that might harm or be unfair to anyone else in the universe. We can survive without the dream present, I’m just a softy and try to make everything perfect.

Okay, well, remember to go to The Bloggess’s James Garfield Miracle post and peruse the comments to get your heart melted. (Remember that there are at least 4 pages of comments and I only linked to the first page so try to browse around — the last page gets pretty good because it’s when gifts start arriving at people’s houses and they tell us all how elated they are.)

Generosity and Gratitude

I know many of my followers have hard times. I know some of my followers have good times. Both can be overwhelming during the holiday season.

To make things a little easier (and probably more overwhelming, but in a good way), Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) is holding her Sixth Annual James Garfield Miracle. Basically, it’s an online event “hosted” by her taxidermied boar’s head named James Garfield, where people who are in need can ask for help and people feeling generous can give it. It’s all done in the comments of the post I linked to. Here, I’ll do it again.

The basic principle is to help children or extra super special people who probably aren’t going to have much of a Christmas this year. It’s also done through Amazon.

The way it works is: people in need, those who cannot afford gifts (or food, or other needed/desperately wanted items) go to Amazon and make a wish list. It can get a bit confusing, but it’s fairly simple. Title the list anything you want, but it’s helpful to title it something like “Holden’s Christmas List” or “Christmas for the kids”, you know, something related to what you’re searching for. Then browse Amazon for the things you’d like, or would like to give someone but cannot afford, and add them to the list. The list must be publicand there must be an address attached so the people who purchase things for you can send them to you (or wherever you want the items sent).

Once you’ve made your list, go to the post I already linked to twice and leave a comment with the URL. It’s best to include a little information, like who the list is for and such. If you want to explain your/their story (like why these items cannot be afforded right now), you are more than welcome to and the community will take you in with open arms. However, if you’re not comfortable sharing, that’s fine, too.

People who want to help: scroll through the comments, find the person/people you’d like to help, click on their list, find something(s) on it you’d like to send, and purchase it! It’s that easy.

If anyone has any trouble, the community of commenters will help you to figure it out. The only thing is that there are no comment replies set up. If Jenny replies to you directly, she does it in a bolded edit on your comment. If other people reply to you, they’ll start their comment with your name and possibly comment number. So you’ll have to go back to check if you expect responses.

This was started only a few days ago and there are already over 2,300 comments. Don’t let that discourage you, though. The comments are mixes of people asking for help, people giving help, people thanking for the help, kind words, recommendations, etc.

I will admit that even I have asked for assistance through this event. At first I had planned on helping, but then I realized that my stepkids (referred to here as Nixon and Nathaniel) need a little magic, so I asked for them. Unfortunately the one thing they really want is super expensive (almost $300) so instead of asking for that I put a bunch of Amazon gift cards on my/their wishlist. Hopefully enough people will pitch in so I can get them their one shared wish, but if not that’s okay, too. The outpouring is more than enough and I’ll at least be able to get them something.

(Most of you know I have a biological son, as I talk about him often. Don’t fret about him — he’s more than taken care of thanks to my father. I’m actually even considered returning one or two of his gifts to put the money towards the kids’ present.)

Even if you’re not in need and can’t help, simply browsing the comments and seeing the staggering number of people coming together for each other is heartwarming. It’s more than heartwarming, it’s heartmelting.

This Isn’t A Real Post

But I just wanted to say Hi. And Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays, and all that.

Mine was swell. Holden is about passed out he’s so tired and I’ve started reading The Bloggess‘s book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, and Jack is snuggled up under his new comforter and Nate is, I hope, a bit happier after our phone call this morning and I’m planning on writing him as soon as I’m done this, and things are as wonderful as they can be, and I wanted to share.

Even though it doesn’t seem like I’ve been gone for long, all of my last week’s posts were pre-scheduled so to me it feels like a lifetime and I miss y’all.

Happy Festivus!

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) )