Tuesday, December 21, 2010

At the Mall

I coerced the husband into meeting us at the mall last evening so that the children could sit upon Santa’s knee and ask him for all their greedy little hearts desire. This may have been a mistake. I did not expect a long, long line, filled with other parents who had procrastinated the Santa visit like me. We watched as proud new moms placed their newborn babies into Santa’s arms, as toddlers screamed the instant they approached the big guy, as fathers held up the line because their video cameras weren’t working properly.

Each of my kids had been waiting for this moment all year. Caleb prepped me while we waited in line.

“Make sure you tell him how well I take care of Kiah. And tell him how good I do in school. He’ll believe it if YOU say it.”

Ben had cut out visual representations of the things he wanted from the Toys R Us catalog. He clutched a picture of the Star Wars Lego Hoth Wampa Cave in his hands. He had refused gloves because he didn’t want to put the picture in his coat pocket, where it might get lost. Unlike Caleb, Ben was unconcerned about whether or not he’d been a good boy. Because last year, he said, he knew he hadn’t been that good, and Santa had still brought him a ton of loot.

Daniel was taking a comprehensive approach to the whole thing; he had decided to tell Santa he wanted “lots of fun toys for boys” this Christmas. That way, Santa was sure not to leave even one totally sweet and awesome fun toy for a little boy out.

Ella has not made any requests for gifts. She was, however, extremely excited about visiting Santa.

“What are you going to tell Santa Claus?” I asked her.

“Hi!” she responded.

Near the entrance of the mall, a homeless man with a long, tangled, silver beard sat on a bench alongside a large bag of bottles and cans. Through the doors, I could hear the jingle of bells from the Salvation Army volunteers. Ella marched up to the man and said,


He grinned, a wide, toothless grin.

The “real” Santa was sweet to my kids. He listened intently and took a long look at Ben’s picture. For the briefest of moments, I believed he really was making a mental note for Christmas Eve. Ella ran up to him and said, “Hi! Hi Santa!” Daniel climbed shyly onto his lap and, in a last minute change of play, requested lego guys. Caleb stood on the periphery, wringing his hands and anxiously awaiting his turn to prove his worthiness.

I love observing the vast differences in their personalities.

Yeah, the greed bothers me. And yes, I’ve said things like, “There are starving children in Africa!” Or, “There are starving children in Asia!” They don’t get it. They’ve never seen it, never experienced poverty or coldness. For God’s sake, Ella thought the homeless man was Santa.

At times, their generosity and caring eclipses the greed. Like when Ben spent an hour designing an elaborate Christmas crown for Daniel. Or when Daniel and Ella proudly bestowed the gift of a candle upon their Sunday School teachers. And when I ask them what Christmas is REALLY about, and they look at me like I have two heads.

“It’s Jesus’s birthday, silly,” said Ben.


Four days until Christmas. Four days to clean the house, get caught up on the laundry, wrap the gifts, make Christmas cookies, buy a ham, and remember that behind the temporary greedy exteriors of my gift-wanting kids are four little souls with incredible gift-giving potential.


Debbie said...

Christmas is for our kids/grandkids and yours sound adorable! Merry Christmas Holly!

Jessica said...

What fun - they sure do have different personalities! :)