Saturday, November 29, 2014

Make Believe...or In This House We Do What The Elf Says

My kids still both believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny.  They are 11 and 9.  Judge if you like.  I firmly believed until I was at least 12.  I never asked my parents.  They never volunteered the information. It was more like a gradual understanding that we came to that we were all pretending.   My mom still put the Christmas presents out after we went to bed like "Santa" did until we left home.  And I turned out okay.  I'm happily married, have a Master's degree, and am firmly rooted in reality today - probably more so than a lot of people I deal with on a daily basis.  I would definitely call myself neither a optimist or a pessimist, but a realist.  Except - and this is huge - when I read or watch t.v. or go to a movie.  Then I find myself totally immersed in the "let's pretend" world of whatever book or show I'm watching. Suspension of disbelief is necessary for even superior fiction.  And make believe is still the best fun there is.

Pretending is great.  As long as you know that's what it is.  As in "I'm going to read this book about this world that's completely made up.  Some of the things in this book don't even exist in real life.  But while the author is writing it and while I'm reading it, we're all going to pretend it's real.  If we all pretend and we all know it, but we totally commit, it will be the best fun there is." It's the people who don't realize they're pretending that have problems, in my opinion. As in, "Everything is fine in my relationship.  It doesn't mean anything that we scream at each other and someone ends up in tears every night."  Pretending about what is real is much more dangerous than when everyone is pretending about what we all know is make believe.

The thing is, my daughter who is 11, has never asked me if Santa is real.  I'm sure other kids have told her he's not.  I know she didn't believe the other kids when she was younger.  But I think she has made the conscious decision at this point to play along now because she loves the idea that magic could be real.  It's the best fun if we all commit.  Her younger brother still believes and she doesn't want to ruin it for him.  And if we all believe in the little universe of our family, it will be the best fun if we all pretend.
When I was a kid, I didn't get along well with kids who couldn't pretend very well. When I had friends over to play, I was always the last one to abandon playing house or with dolls or the mystery detective game we were playing.  Everyone tired of it before me.  I remember wanting to play with my dolls one night when I was about 14 and knowing I really was too old for that, but still...

So we'll continue with Santa and the Easter Bunny.  The Elf on the Shelf came back this year as well. I know there are lots of haters out there for the Elf.  Save it.  My kids like it.  We've never used it as the standard elf tattling on the kids to Santa.  It's always been more about the surprise of the different scenario each morning.   And I think that even after neither believe anymore, I'll continue to haul out the old make-believe and hold with tradition.  And a part of them will still love it.  

That being said, our elf came back the day after Thanksgiving.  "She" left us a special little breakfast that morning.  It's amazing what a clearance tablecloth and some decorations from last year's after Christmas sale can do.

The next day we found her like this with a note:

So that's what we did.  In this house we do what the elf says.


Thanksgiving and The Calm During The Storm

No, I have not abandoned my blog.  Life and computer problems have kept me from posting.  I'm still working on the computer problems, but life isn't going to slow down anytime soon.  So I decided no more stalling.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.  It snowed this year on both the day before Thanksgiving and the day of Thanksgiving.  Dan and I started to talk about the last time it snowed on Thanksgiving and we had a whole discussion down memory lane trying to recall. At the end of the conversation we still weren't sure when (or if) it had snowed on Thanksgiving before. This made me realize I wanted to make sure I posted about Thanksgiving because no matter how hard you try to remember each holiday, they start running together like watercolors over the year.  And while watercolors can be beautiful, sometimes you want a more exact portrait to look at and remember what something looked like.

The day before Thanksgiving we hadn't cooked anything and had a whole houseful of people coming the next day.  When school was over, I stepped out into the swirling snow in the parking lot, dusted off my car in the biting cold, and left with a renewed energy that somewhat surprised me.  I think it was in anticipation of the upcoming break.  I stopped at Walgreen's to pick up some last minute things for the breakfast we have the day after Thanksgiving.  This breakfast is when our elf returns.  I'm pretty sure my daughter has figured out the whole elf thing isn't for real, but she hasn't asked the actual question.  I don't think she will anytime soon either.  She still loves to play along with a great amount of enthusiasm, and I am thankful for this.  Kids grow up too fast, especially in today's world.  I think she still wants to believe magic can be real and knows it's fun to pretend it is.  I know this feeling only too well myself.  I still have it when I watch Game of Thrones.  Why can't dragons be real?

When I got home, the house was empty (save our dogs and cats).  I remembered Dan had made an appointment for himself and the kids for haircuts.  I put away the elf goodies, changed into my yoga pants and sneakers, and set to work peeling a mountain of potatoes.  As I was standing at the sink, looking out the window at the snow, the quiet settled in around me.  I could have turned on the television or fired up my iPod, but I didn't.   I was happy. Content.  I was anticipating my family coming home and my extended family arriving the next day.  There is no better anticipation in the world.  But the quiet was awesome too.  I reveled in peeling those potatoes in the silence, watching the snow fall.

Thanksgiving went off with only a few hiccups (No wood chips for the smoker - thank goodness for Kroger being open. No turkey-sized oven bag for the turkey - again thanks, Kroger) as it does every year.  I enjoyed the whole day. 

After we'd cleaned up and I stretched out on the couch to look at the ads for the sales the next day, I remembered that quiet moment as it all began - the calm during the storm.  And I was thankful.