Saturday, December 17, 2011

Santa ALWAYS Sends Candy Canes

I know that, in the social networking circles I travel in, Santa is pretty controversial. Some parents don't do Santa because they don't want to lie to their kids, be found out later, and have their children feel betrayed by the lie. Others prefer to keep Santa out of a religious holiday. And some parents just want to focus on the family time and spirit of giving - Santa is really all about receiving when you think of it. Although I can see all the points of these parents, and agree with some of them to some degree, we do Santa.

My biggest concern of all of the above reasons for eliminating him from the holiday season is the first - I do not lie to my children. That is, I don't lie to them, with this one exception! Santa is magical, he's a giving person who wants to spread joy. Why wouldn't I want my children to feel that magic once a year? "But what about when they find out it was all a lie?", you ask? Here's how it worked for me, and how I went about this with my oldest: When I started doubting the whole Santa thing, my dad took me aside and explained that he was really Jolly Old St. Nick. A slight shock, but I was OK. Then, he enlisted my help. Now that I was grown up enough to know the secret that little kids didn't know, I was an elf (when I had kids of my own, I got to climb the ladder to "Santa" status.) So, from then on, I got to join in on helping my brother and sister write letters to Santa, I got to help choose the gifts for them from Santa, I got to stay up late and help my dad arrange the gifts under the tree on Christmas Eve. My oldest loves having these special privileges, too.

So, do you remember the photo I posted a couple of days ago, asking if you could figure out why Little Guy was so amazed and my teen was giving me an actual smile... for the camera?

Here's the wonderful Holiday story:
Little Guy and I wrote a letter to Santa as our Dec. 1st activity from our Christmas Countdown/Advent calendar. He dictated a short letter to me, then we cut out pictures of toys he liked from the Black Friday ads we'd been saving. Being three, he wanted everything. So, we spent a good hour cutting things out. Then, we weeded it down to 1 page's worth of toy pictures and we glued them all onto the letter. As I folded up his letter, he said, "No, Mama! Don't close it all up! I need to make a picture!!!" Whenever we send his grandmas anything, we always include a freshly-drawn picture, so why not one for Santa, too? I traced his hand with a marker, then he colored it in and added a couple of stickers. I added it to the envelope, sealed it up... and didn't know what to write for the addressee.

Google was no help. I man, there were nearly 2 million hits for "Santa's address", but I was hoping to find one where we might be able to get some kind of response - even a form letter. I went from site to site for nearly an hour and finally gave up. I did the next thing I always do when I need to find something online and just can't:
How COOL is this???
Now, Bernie is one of my friends that my husband calls my "Imaginary Friends Inside the Computer". I've never met her. I've never even spoken with her on the phone. We know each other via comments on each other's blogs. (If you've never read One Mixed Bag, you have to go check it out. Bernie usually posts every morning before I even roll out of bed. Her posts are the very first thing I read in the morning while I gulp down sip my first cup of coffee.) ANYWAY, later that afternoon, Little Guy and I headed for the big blue mailbox near the grocery store with an envelope addressed to Santa... at his vacation home in Montana.

Before she even received the letter, Bernie asked if she could include a small gift for him and what might be appropriate. I suggested some stickers or, if she meant a package, she could probably find a die cast car for a buck. Then, STILL before she got the letter, she (or maybe her husband, Roy) came up with the idea to send him a stamp with his name on it. He LOVES stamps! And, what about one for my oldest, too? Um... OK! THEN, she emailed and asked if the kids could have candy canes. She said that Roy insisted that Santa always sends candy canes, but she wanted to make sure I was cool with the candy part. Well, Santa and candy canes go together like milk and cookies, right? Of course he sends candy canes!

 This is what arrived from Santa on Wednesday! Now, the mail gets delivered early here, so it had to sit here ALL DAY, waiting for my oldest to get home from school before we could open it. I really, really, really wanted to see what was inside. Try as I might, I just couldn't figure out how I might just peel back a corner to have a peek inside!

Finally, my oldest got home! Little Guy was just bursting the second he heard the front door open, "Brubber! Hurry up! We got a box from SANTA!!! Hurry!" Then, the poor kid had to wait for Mommy to take a picture.

The very first thing in the box was a "Santa's Nice List Certificate" with Little Guy's name on it. He was so happy to know that he was on that list! He'd been watching the Dora the Explorer Christmas special where Swiper gets put on Santa's naughty list and has been wondering about himself. (He's not been easy to live with lately!) I haven't used the old, "Santa's elves are watching you!" threat, but I sure have been tempted!
 Next, he was just thrilled to pull out Artie the Elf's very own, real live ELF HAT! My oldest told him to make a face like one of Santa's elves for the picture and this is his interpretation:

Then, they got into the gifts! Little Guy had no idea what his stamp was until we told him to push it down onto the cardboard. I couldn't believe it - I had to change my batteries right after the photo on the right. I completely missed the surprised look on his face when he moved the stamp. He can recognize his first name in print, so he knew exactly what it said. I love that Bernie & Roy included his last name, too. It was good thinking because we don't really write it much and he really should learn to recognize that in writing, too! Now, aside from learning to recognize (and eventually write) his own name, this stamp is going to be very helpful when it comes time to put his name on his drawings and art projects. You see, Little Guy just HAS to do everything by himself. He gets so frustrated when I write his name on the back of a drawing or project before we mail it off to a grandparent. Having his own stamp to put his name on all by himself is a great way to give him that independence he wants.

Although I missed the photo after he realized that the little box he was holding was a stamp, I did manage to catch the face he made in the photo on the left. I couldn't help but laugh when he proclaimed with much authority, "Brubber! I know what that is! It's a stamp with YOUR name on it!!!"

Now, on the right, you'll see a very genuine teenager smile! That smile is hard to find on an apathetic-acting teen's face - even harder to catch on film (or a digital memory card... whatever they call it nowadays.) He absolutely loves his stamp. It's not just his name, though! Nope - it's his signature with his name printed below it. He loves drawing - he's constantly working on creating his own brand of Yugioh-like cards, a manga comic book, or just doodling. He signs his work, then has to go back and print his name. He's proud of his work and wants people to know it was his work - his siggy is just a bunch of squiggles. So, Bernie and Roy created a signature stamp for him, with his full name printed below it. (You should have witnessed the weird looks he gave me for a couple of days after I asked him to show me his signature. I think he was under the impression that I was going to forge his name for who knows what reasons! LOL)
Bernie & Roy even thought to add an extra bottle of ink for the boys!
And, here are those candy canes. Little Guy is enamored with candy - especially candy canes. He hasn't had much candy until recently, and he sure has a sweet tooth! See the look on his face over there? That's one of complete and total awe. I took the picture right after my oldest explained that there were TWELVE candy canes in there and, if everyone in the family split them up, we'd each gt four whole candy canes. Now, being three years old, three is a big number to him. Whenever he is asked how many of something he'd like, he answers three. He knows that four is a larger number than three, so to learn that four of those candy canes were all his was nearly too much for him!

And check this out:
A real, framed AND autographed photo of Santa!!! I could have knocked him down with a feather when he saw this. Every morning, now, he wakes up and goes to his Santa picture and says hello. I'm wondering if Santa's picture will be spending his off-time in a box with all of our other Christmas decorations, or hanging on our living room wall year-round. (Actually, I think I know the answer. I'll be seeing Santa in July!)

I think that Santa is expecting his reindeer to need a little pick-me-up by the time they fly to our house, He sent along some Magic Reindeer Food for us to sprinkle on our lawn on Christmas Eve! If you don't get any in the mail from Santa, you can make your own from some oatmeal and sparkly colored sugar.
What a great letter - I love how all of the crafting we've been doing is mentioned!
Oh, and, although we had to show Little Guy how to use the stamp at first, he figured out how it worked pretty quickly! At least I know that, if he gets lost in a store, they'll at least know his name so they can call me over the P.A. system. (Bernie, it takes a little more than a baby wipe to get this stuff off if you wait a while to clean it off. The back of his hand still has his name all over it! LOL) But just look at how much fun he is having! The ink will wash off (eventually), but I know he'll remember having a fun time for quite a while.

We added Little Guy's certificate and letter to our "Tree Wall" and his Santa photo is sitting right on his little red table. (Psst... check out my next post later on today to see what we did with this photo... There's a giveaway involved!)
 I really want to thank Bernie and Roy 
for helping to make Little Guy's first 
"real" Christmas all the more magical. 
Never, in my wildest dreams, would I have imagined
such a wonderful reply from Santa. 

We'd all like to send you our gratitude and wishes for a very wonderful holiday and very happy new year to both of you!

*I like to think that I'm pretty creative when it comes to cool things for kids. But I'd NEVER have thought of a simple personalized stamp as being one of them. I'm doubly amazed that both my 3 y.o. and my 13 y.o. are equally thrilled to have their very own stamps. If you're thinking that a stamp like the ones that Bernie & Roy sent my kids, check out their online store: Rubber Stamp Shop. Hey - there's even have a secret section on the site with jokes! Ok, it's not secret, but it did take me a while to come across it.


Smart Ass Sara said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

That is amazing. Seriously- Bernie you rock and I don't even know you!

We believe in Santa here. When I grew up and realized that the Santa I thought had existed wasn't totally accurate- my mom told me that when you get to be a grown up, it's your job to be a Santa. And that being a Santa means you are kind to everyone, you do self-less things all year round and that giving is always more important than receiving. And I have carried that with me since. Every Christmas my priority is giving to every group I see collecting for a specific mission, I give to the Salvation Army every time I go to the store, and I do my best to do special gifts for those I know who are in real need of just some groceries or something. now that Olivia is 6 I feel like we're getting to the point where she'll have questions and I'm ready for her.

Bernie said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Oh, what fun to "hear" the story of them opening the box! I'm so glad they were pleased. Thank you for plugging our shop too. That was very nice of you!! I'm going to share this on my blog and Facebook tomorrow. We are both thrilled that the boys enjoyed their Santa package. We are just as excited to make it!

Sara, *blsh* Not really. But thanks. We just don't have kids and our nieces and nephew are too old for this stuff. So it was fun to be able to do this.

Coupon Queen said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Bernie loved doing this, every morning she would tell me the fun stuff she found or did for the box. I am so glad the boys liked the box from Santa!! Bernie is always doing something nice for others, she is a wonderful friend, even to folks she has never met. :) Merry Christmas to all of you!!!

Sheri said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Aren't Bernie and Mr. Bernie the best? What a wonderful story of giving and fostering the spirit of Christmas in our children. Thanks for posting it.

TriGirl said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

If i didn't know better, I'd worry that Bernie and Mr. Bernie would get big heads from all the recent good deeds that have been talked about. But, they are just genuinely good people who want to make people happy. This was great!

Minnesota Prairie Roots said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I am not at all surprised by Bernie and Roy's gift. They are giving like that. Awhile back Bernie sent me an animal cake decorating book from the 1960s because I had written about it on my blog. I remembered this booklet from my childhood and wished I had it.

Then, one day, a package shows up from Bernie, with that booklet and a homemade card. And I cried.

Bernie knows exactly how to touch your heart. She's a gem.