Tad made a quick trip to GOD’S COUNTRY South Carolina this week, and we contemplated my tagging along. His days would be occupied with work, and I would’ve been cut loose to visit family, lunch with friends, Christmas shop, and basically be released from the demands of home, freed from the bondage of what “needed” to get done. Nights would be ours;).

Historically, childcare has been an issue, we have no family nearby. Perhaps one of the things for which we are most thankful are a few friends here who gladly care for our children, allowing us occasional getaways. We love our babies, but we love our time away. Personally, I think it allows us to love our babies even better (not “more”, just better).

At the last minute, we decided for me to stay home. There’s work still to be completed on the bathroom renovation (did you forget about it? How could I?? I’m still living out of an overnight bag!), I have some fun things planned later in the week, we’re hosting a Christmas party Saturday night, and I STILL have to finish putting out our Christmas decorations. I’m as slow as a snail when it comes to this, I decorate like I clean: start. stop. here. there….an ADHA child when it comes to matters of housekeeping and decorating (and probably a host of other things “to do”).

Tad had been gone less than four hours when the first “crisis” occurred, and I could not have been more thankful for remaining home. There have been two so far, and I’m praying there’s not a third.

This goes with “Providence” in the post title. Once I began writing, this got so long, I needed a break. I’ll come back later to write the “Irony” part… for now, read this and weep, I am.

[1] Shortly after we arrived home from school yesterday, Thomas rushed into the house with a panicked look on his face. “Mom! Help! Stephen just asked if Santa Claus was real!”

This is when I despise the “honesty police” that lives within me; when asked a direct question, I’ll give you a direct answer, and it might not be the one you want to hear–I sooo wish I could just give you the one you want to hear sometimes. But if I think you “look fat in those pants” or your haircut looks ridiculous, or I don’t wanna eat at the restaurant you suggested, you’ll know it. Don’t ask if you don’t wanna hear Robin’s version of the truth. I’m kind in response, I try to spin it nicely, but if you listen, you’ll hear what I’m saying. I’ve been accused of being brutal (which, to me, is both a curse and a compliment).

So, my advice to Thomas was to throw the question back to Stephen, to ask him what HE thought. Thomas had already done that. I told him if Stephen persisted, to encourage him to ask me or Tad and we’d handle it.

Sometimes Thomas’ sweetness balms my soul. He was aching for Stephen himself, realizing that his little brother was “growing up”, and even he wanted him to still believe in Santa Claus. “I just feel so bad for him, I don’t want him to know,” and he meant it. I asked Thomas if Stephen mentioned kids talking about it at school, but he said Stephen had simply concluded “there was no way Santa could live forever….” I don’t know why I thought Thomas might be waiting for opportunity to bust Stephen’s bubble about this, I guess as one of four siblings, I know kids can be cruel for sport. I had a great friendship with my siblings, but when I was that age, I messed with their minds when given the chance.

Thomas returned to shooting hoops, and not two minutes later, Stephen was in the house. He looked like he had seen a ghost. “Mom, I have kind of a random question. Is Santa Clause….” before he could finish his sentence, as he saw the solemness of my expression, he knew the answer before I could respond. He collapsed into my lap, unable to hold back his tears, my mommy-heart crying in silent unison. I was rendered speechless…every thought I had was trite, cliché, pointless. The only comfort I could give was to smother him in my arms and let him cry…let him be a little boy who mourned this coming-of-age moment…my child who, out of everyone in our family, most delighted in the MAGIC of Christmas…HE was the first to retrieve his ornaments from the attic, HE was the one who helped me unpack our decorations, HE is the one who dug through another storage area to pull out our collection of Christmas books, HE prided in arranging our crèches, HE’s the one who waters the tree…are you getting a picture of why this breaks my heart? This MATTERED to him. He’s nine, which is kind of old to still believe (especially with an older brother and sister), yet he wasn’t embarrassed or self conscious to ask when we were going to visit Santa.

I wasn’t about to pontificate “the true meaning of Christmas” to him, or stress the spiritual dimensions of the holiday. To me, that would be cruel…manipulative…a guilt inducer for something for which he had no reason to feel guilty. He knows all that, he didn’t need a reminder.

I imagine there will be those who google how to respond to this question. Sadly, no pearls of wisdom from me, no wise and masterfully articulated, “Yes,Virginia,there is a Santa Claus”. Just the freedom for him to cry it out while he came to terms with the truth, in the safety and security of an embrace that quietly–but most assuredly–ministered “love”. I am beyond thankful I was home to field this question.

Which, even Stephen knows, matters more than Santa.

After he said his prayers and I kissed him good night last night, as I was leaving his room, he asked, “Can we still go see Santa Claus?” You betcha:)!

If you’re visiting from a Jenny’s “Naked & Free” post, I’d love to hear your thoughts, too. And thanks for letting me “get naked” with you….


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