Christmas is behind us, and a game-playing night looms ahead for New Year’s Eve. Pat and Tanya met us for the 5 p.m. Christmas Eve service at the Unitarian Church, and afterwards we all went back to their house so the kids could exchange gifts (Susie is quite happy with her new digital camera, although we have yet to buy batteries for it). The high point of the evening was Pat’s incomparable split pea soup. I only stopped eating it because my stomach was running out of room.
Christmas Day was quiet. We ate homemade lasagna, played some board games, and watched TV, and generally stared at the ceiling all day. It was not easy for me to return to work yesterday… I was dragging and dozing off from time to time, and it was not a simple matter to keep focused on the doctors’ tapes.
Later Christmas Eve was a little troubling. We got home from Pat and Tanya’s house around 10, since their kids (Gianna and Sasha, 10 and 7 respectively) were starting to wilt. Susie burst into tears when we got home, because there would be no visit from Santa for her in the morning.
Steph and I have been gently easing Christmas out of the picture, mostly with Susie’s understanding. She, like us, is not a believer in the Virgin Birth or the theological meaning behind the holiday, but we have made December a month of celebration. We lit the menorah for the first and final nights of Hanukkah (and exchanged gifts on both), and decided that last Saturday, the winter solstice, would be the big gift-giving day.
Susie had said she was fine with that. The closest we came to a Christmas tree was decorating the plastic philodendron (Alice) with some of our kitschier baubles. But she had a change of heart when she saw Gianna and Sasha eagerly awaiting Kris Kringle’s arrival in the morning.
Susie knows that Santa Claus is not a real being. A kindergarten playmate broke this news to her, and Susie said that even though she knew it wasn’t true, she still would believe. (Mark Twain’s definition of faith is “believing something you know ain’t true”, and I guess he’s right.) So she still sent Santa letters, talked about his visits and his gifts, left him snacks (which yours truly ate, even the raw carrots for the reindeer), etc.
While Steph attempted to get Susie to bed and quieted down, I made an emergency dash to get some last-minute presents. I found Susie’s stocking in the basement, and went to our 24-hour Marathon station and bought candy, Barbie doll knockoffs, a little Matchbox car, and I found a girlish blank journal (an old Hollie Hobbie journal I found in a junk store eons ago) in my office that I had wanted to give to her and had forgotten. We hung the stocking with care, and Susie was delighted that Santa came after all.
Susie’s friend Tierney shared Christmas dinner with us, and we watched a disk of Droopy cartoons afterwards. While Susie and I were walking down Cypress Avenue on Christmas afternoon, we saw three or four boys playing with a radio-controlled plastic helicopter, about the size of a Tonka truck. I was quite amazed at its altitude. Their navigation skills leave a little to be desired–I’m pretty sure by New Year’s that helicopter will take up permanent residence on somebody’s roof.