Christmas Eve ended in tears, with my mothers finally breaking the news that while Santa was not a real person (nor a dangerous criminal), the “spirit of Christmas” was very much alive and well and that I shouldn’t ruin it for other children who wanted to believe (nicely played, Mimi and Leesha).
I was immediately bathed in relief. As an only child raised around adults, being in on any secret appealed to me, whether it was a family friend shipped off to rehab or an entire fictional narrative sold to children. Who cared about those other babies and their letters to some made up man in the North Pole? No old guy and his family of indentured servants were going to put me on a list. The same went for the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Somehow I did not apply the same logic to God, The Universe, Publishers Clearing House, guardian angels, Powerball, near-death experiences, or ghosts, but that’s a different story for another time. And many more hours of therapy.
Now, I see that perhaps learning about the danger of strangers alongside the idea of Santa Claus wasn’t the best for my inherently anxious disposition. If the Elf on the Shelf had existed when I was a kid I would have likely been driven to fits of paranoia and frequent sobbing.
Fast forward thirty years.
When I began googling “Santa photos Seattle” a few weeks ago it was all because of a coat. My baby is seven months old but is now wearing clothes made for children twice her age, including a very delicate, very beautiful, very expensive coat she will soon surely grow out of. It was a thoughtful gift from a relative and when we received it I was sure she’d be sporting it in the spring when we roll out the old Easter Bunny myth but lo, here we are in December and there’s an outfit that needs to be formally and festively documented. Plus, I like a seasonal carousel ride. I’m not made of stone, you know.
Barring familial strife (to which I am no stranger to), holiday stress is usually self-inflicted (see: the Cathedral Window Jello salad
and four-layer cake I literally drove over a river and through the woods and also up a mountain to Frida’s grandmother’s house slash Thanksgiving dinner). But these days I’m desperate to turn any task into an outing and any outing into an event, if only to say that I managed to get myself and my infant charge out of the house that day. So we’ll do the Santa photos. Don the coat. Navigate the stroller through the hordes of other human flesh sacks that just want to make holiday memories at a nice, clean Nordstrom and come out relatively unscathed.
If the coat fits, wear it.