Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A Great Holiday

It's been a long time since Santa had such a prominent place in my life. I was 7 or 8 when I was told (by my classmates) that there was no Santa Claus. I still remember their sneers as they told me. I was shocked, and went home and asked my mother. She confirmed my worst fears. I love the holidays - it's a combination of the music, the movies, the lights and the change in behavior of many people, including myself. There are just a few things that inspire that feeling in me - one is Disney World. Santa came back into my life this year, but this time I saw him through the eyes of a parent. It was spectacular.

My son is almost three now, and while I'm sure he doesn't understand the more subtle aspects of Christmas, he did get the basics behind Santa Claus. He knew Santa was coming, but didn't know exactly when he would arrive. He definitely understood that Santa was bringing presents, however. I asked him a little bit before Christmas what he was going to ask Santa to bring him, and he replied "A car, a car, a tow truck, a race car and a car." Oh, for life to be so simple again.

A couple of times we were near Santa at the mall, but he was too scared to go and see him. He's going through a shy phase where he'll hide by burying his face in my shoulder or putting an arm up over his eyes when strangers are near. He got quite upset one day after telling me he didn't want to see Santa. He was upset because he wanted to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas, but didn't actually want to talk to him. Luckily, Mrs. Claus came along and he told her. He also wrote Santa a letter.

He made out pretty good. I got him a race car track (a simple one) and a Tonka Tow Truck. My personal opinion was that the tow truck would be his favorite. It made sounds and had lights and was a tow truck (little boys are genetically programmed to like tow trucks). The real prizewinner, however, was his Hess Truck (which, this year, is a fire engine). That was a present from Curly. When he opened it he literally gasped, and ran over to show it to me. Once I got it out of the box it took him all of 30 seconds to figure out that there was a button that opened a door on the back. Inside that door was another emergency truck! I didn't know about it, so it was a surprise for me. He fell in love with it, and the tow truck was quickly forgotten. I think I was having more fun watching him than he was playing.

We soon headed out to see my brother and his family. On the way he held that fire engine in a bear hug when he wasn't rolling it in his lap or playing with the ladder. When he fell asleep he held it like a security blanket. He made it a point to tell me something. "Daddy, Cousin 1 and Cousin 2 are not going to play with this truck." "They're not?" "No Daddy, they don't like it." He turned out to be wrong - that fire engine became the focus of all four toddlers present. In an attempt to head off any meltdowns we opened a few more presents so all four boys (another cousin was there) would have a toy to play with - it worked for the most part.

We had a wonderful time there. My son and his cousins get along very well (surprising, considering how my brothers and I fought when we were young), but we had to make sure everybody got a chance to play with the fire engine. I think Hess must add some kind of Toddler Siren Call to that truck - they were all mesmerized by it. I wish I had gotten a picture of my son sleeping with his arm around it - I sat and watched him for a little while, and I'd love to be able to see that again.

I also got him a simple little electric racetrack, but we haven't opened that one yet. I can only imagine the pandemonium that would have caused with four little boys. That's one present that will stay at my house so he can play with it when he's visiting. I found two books he'll love on the clearance table at Barnes and Noble. One is a book on muscle cars, the other is a book on "Things That Go". It's filled with cutaway pictures of cars, trucks, tractors and trains. I think we'll have a lot of fun reading that one. I can teach him how things work.

I mentioned before that this Christmas was shaping up to be a whole lot better than last year. Last year I got a Christmas card from my landlady's niece. I didn't visit anybody since I was sick. I was right about this year. I got to spend time with my son and my family and got an immense amount of pleasure watching them open presents. The funniest was the Belly Dancing Kit I gave to my sister-in-law. She loved the little finger-cymbals.

Although I've always enjoyed giving presents more than receiving them, I have to say that I got some really nice presents this year. Curly gave me a beautiful watch and a really nice North Face Fleece Jacket. My brother and sister-in-law gave me the box set of the Firefly series (which the movie Serenity was based on). I hadn't seen any of them, mainly because I wanted to watch them in order and wasn't able to record it the last time it was aired. I've watch it all, and it was surprisingly good. Now I can rent the movie. I gave Curly a Palm TX, which I was a little nervous about, as it's not a "romantic" present, but she loved it. I also got some little things so I could stuff a stocking for her, which went over surprisingly well. She'd never had a stocking before.

All in all, I had a great Christmas. The best part was just that I got to spend it with so many of my friends and family, but especially with my son. There's just something about the joy that he's a wonderful experience.

Things are steadily improving in my life. There are still things to work out, there's still stress, but I'm heading in the right direction.