Today we are going to go cut down a christmas tree. We are going to find a tree farm, pile out of the car, purposefully step in something muddy, and wander around a tiny forest until we find a tree we can all agree on. We will pay the tree farmer something that is at once exorbitant and a pittance for a lush tree that has grown from a tiny seed just to grace my living room for a month.
I have no idea what we did for a christmas tree last year. I think I bought one of those three-foot ones outside a grocery store so that I could put it up out of Henry’s reach. Either way, Violet doesn’t seem to remember it or many other details about christmas in general. Partly because she’s three this year and we’re having many firsts anyway, and partly because it’s fully been a third of her life since we last experienced christmas. Henry of course, has no recollection either so this is another first christmas. When children are super little, these annual experiences and traditions grow in comprehension like the tiers on a cake every year that they happen. This year Violet is pretty interested in Santa. Last year she didn’t really understand what a Santa was, but this year is definitely the year of Santa. I don’t expect to ever have a christmas like this again with a smarty-pants like Violet. Already she is questioning certain discrepancies in the Santa story like the flying reindeer, how he gets to everyone, how he gets into our house, how he knows exactly what to get, and many other minute details about elves, and sleighs, and gravity.
The day after Thanksgiving when I was busy wasting time on the internet in an attempt to find deals (there were none) I found one where you pay a month’s wage in a third-world country so that an “Elf” will call your house and talk to your child. Not show up, call. Scoff all you want, but I know for certain that people were buying it because the deal showed how many purchases had already been made. It looks like I’m not the only parent with smart kids trying desperately to unravel the mystery of the Santa Claus.
I didn’t buy it. The best part about the mystery of Santa Claus is discovering that the spirit of Christmas lives on not just on one old man and a bunch of elves, but in mothers and fathers and friends and family. Someday Violet and Henry will be let in on an even better story about Christmas. The story where we are inspired to give gifts by the generosity of Nicholas of Myrna–a fourth-century bishop from Greece who was known for secret gift-giving–who in turn was inspired by the generosity of Grace of Jesus Christ.