I’ve previously mentioned that seven is my favorite age. If Liam could stay seven forever, I would be beyond happy. As Mike and I talked about what we should do for Christmas, a horrible thought hit me: this might be Liam’s last Christmas believing in Santa.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that I am not a big Christmas person. We put up a tree a decorate outside. We bake cookies and spend a lot of time decorating them. I take Liam to see Santa on a weekday afternoon the week after Thanksgiving so we can get in and out and avoid lines. We leave cookies for Santa and carrots for his reindeer. But that is as far as we go. I will never play Christmas music or watch Christmas movies. I have no interest in decorating extensively or using holiday dish towels. We never did those things growing up and too many years of retail killed whatever Christmas mojo I once had. Last year, the only picture we took on Christmas morning was of the dog.
When Liam was younger, Elf on a Shelf became popular. I hate everything about it, referring to it as Santa’s narc. Liam went through a phase where he thought he should earn a treat each time he acted appropriately. This came to a head while we were on vacation. We took a boat ride from our beach house in Jamestown to Newport. We walked around Newport, had lunch, bought some fudge, and rode the boat back.
“Maybe because I was such a good listener I could get a special treat,” Liam suggested on the boat ride back.
“You’re spending a week at a beach house. You took a boat ride to Newport. We bought you lunch. You had fudge. That is your special treat.”
Mike and I focused on Liam doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do, not because he may get a treat. Honestly, I know that most things in life come down to the “earn a reward/ avoid a consequence” mentality. I want Liam to enjoy doing the right thing and not become a spoiled beast. We never offered up Elf on a Shelf. Liam never wanted one.
This year, Liam asked for an Elf on the Shelf. He said that all of his friends have one and they seem like a lot of fun. We asked him to explain the elf’s job; he’s fully aware he reports to Santa. His classrooms in his last school did Elf on a Shelf. I have to admit that I enjoyed looking for the little guy each morning. It looked like a lot of work and reminded me of themes saved for teaching Lord of the Flies. (What makes people do the right thing? Is it because we’re actually good people or is it because we are scared some toy elf is going to snitch on us to the big guy?)
But then we remembered that the years of Liam believing in Santa are numbered. We’ve got this one, but next year isn’t guaranteed. I ordered the elf this morning. I’m going to dig out all of the Christmas decorations people have given us through the years that I usually store away. Maybe I’m lazy, but it seems like a lot of work to move everything around just for a few weeks? It takes hours to put it all out and hours to put it all away.
This year will be different. We will drink the Christmas Kool-Aid. I will set an alarm on my Fitbit for 9:15 each night, reminding me to move the elf. Mike and I decided to decorate the inside of the house this year. I will make Liam watch the Polar Express, which I have never read nor watched myself. We bought tickets to breakfast with Santa. This time of Liam believing in all of the Christmas magic is dwindling; we need to keep it as long as possible.