Have you seen the website Portable North Pole? By filling in a few pieces of personal identification, Santa appears with a special greeting for your child who then waits for the elves to operate an elaborate machine designed to help Santa decide whether or not their name appears on the naughty or nice list. A friend showed me the video he’d created for one of his sons and it is just charming! I can only imagine how excited this little guy must have been to hear directly from Santa that he made the good list! On the other hand, my friend had plans to have the older child’s name appear on the naughty list, hoping to encourage a little extra attention towards good behavior. The PNP Santa gives the children a kindly warning with a generous chance to get their behavior in line before the Christmas deadline.
I don’t have many memories of when I began to put it all together that Santa wasn’t really coming to each house and leaving gifts. But I do remember having a few conversations with my children when they were very young as they tried to reconcile how it was that Santa had time to come down our street every year a few days before Christmas. Wasn’t he supposed to be working and getting everything ready at the North Pole? And why was he riding a fire truck followed by at least one or two emergency vehicles?
Our fire department has hosted this annual tradition since I was a child. We typically have advance notice of the night he will be traveling in our sector of the city, but on those nights all we know is to be ready somewhere between 6:30 and 9:30 pm. On clear nights the sounds of amplified ho-ho-ho accompanied by intermittent wailing from one or more of the emergency vehicles let’s you know Santa is on his appointed rounds, but the trick is figuring out when he is coming down OUR street since sound carries and he may still be blocks away. Many false runs into the cold night air typically indicate that the adults in the household are really just big kids themselves when it comes to Santa!
It has been fun to introduce this tradition to Sophia and Karina but I do wonder what is going on in those two little heads as they begin to reconcile all the sights and sounds of Christmas. Along with anticipating the Santa visit we have also been reading stories about Jesus’ birth at Christmas, and today I heard Karina play-acting with her sister and saying, “I’m Joseph and this is my friend Mary.” Being a grandparent is highly advantageous. Mom and Dad are on the hook for most of the sorting out!
So we know that Santa is coming to our street on the 23rd. Will he be early or late in the evening? You can never be sure. But one thing is certain, Aimee and I are already talking about how to maintain a little more calm and decorum than we have exhibited in the past. Last year as we sat eating our dinner we almost missed the whole thing. We didn’t have much advance warning so all of a sudden we realized the sounds were mighty close! We abruptly grabbed the girls from the dinner table and ran outside. Gratefully, the sights and sounds of an exuberant candy-throwing Santa seemed to offset the trauma of being whisked from the table with little or no warning.
You’d think we would know better! After all, the previous year we’d made fools of ourselves!
Sophia, barely two, was in the bath. Judging by the neighborhood sounds we thought we had plenty of time, but we were wrong! I went to the door to check and discovered that Santa was making a fast approach. Running toward the bathroom and quite literally screeching “Santa, Santa is coming!” I motion Aimee to get a move-on! Grab that poor wet baby and let’s get outdoors. With ludicrous antics mirroring TV’s Modern Family our behaviors took on a frantic display that should be reserved only for emergencies—or the Apocalypse! Sophia was quickly bundled and rushed outdoors, someone else grabbed Karina, and we made it to the curb just in time for Santa.
It wasn’t until we came back inside that we looked at one another in disbelief! What had come over us? Had we lost our minds? Well, yes, I think we sort of did just that. So this year we have another opportunity to reclaim our composure and try to keep our enthusiasm in check—the goal? Let’s all have a very nice evening, but try not to scare the children with Santa’s arrival. If it all goes well, I may let you know!