Sometimes an attic is all it takes to delight children.
This afternoon, the boys and I made cookies. Jacob has been talking about setting out milk and cookies for Santa Claus for several days, and of course the fact that we had made cookies reminded him of this – as I figured it would. So after the boys got into their pajamas and all ready for bed, we set out milk and cookies for Santa.
The boys have always known that Santa is pretend, but love the stories and traditions anyhow. Never mind that Christmas was 3 days ago, and they’ve already opened their presents. It’s SANTA! It’s magic! It doesn’t matter!
I asked Jacob, “Would you like me to pretend to be Santa tonight?” A big grin, then “Oh yes, dad! Do it!”
So after I read them their bedtime story, sang them a song (Jacob chose a Latin hymn – that’s my boy!), and tucked them into bed, I pretended to be Santa. I went back downstairs. I drank the milk and ate the cookies. Then I went to my small future present stash, selected a few small items, and put them under the tree. I gave it a few minutes.
Then I crept up to the attic. I snuck along the wood floors quietly, until I was above the boys’ room.
Then I jumped. And I scraped a wood chair along the floor. And then I yelled out – “HO HO HO! Merry Christmas!” I had a brief conversation with Rudolph, then made some sliding noises. I was silent for a few seconds, then made some more noise and said, “Wow, Rudolph, Jacob and Oliver left some great milk and cookies! Let’s go deliver the rest of our presents!” And made some vague sleigh taking off from the roof of a house noises.
I crept back down the stairs. I put my ear to the outside of the closed door to the boys’ bedroom. I heard Jacob excitedly jabbering, “He said milk and cookies! He liked them! He really liked them! Ooo butterfly, he was here!” (Butterfly is a stuffed, er, butterfly that he sleeps with.)
I gave it a minute or two, then I went in. “Jacob, did you hear something?”
“What was it?”
“Well, it was a loud thud! I sat straight up like this. [ he demonstrates ] Then I heard ‘ho ho ho’! And ‘milk and cookies’! And I was excited like this!” [ more demonstrations ]
“What do you think happened?”
“I don’t know! Dad, what did you do?“
I told him. It only increased his delight.
“Did it sound like Santa’s sleight landing?”
“(annoyed) No, dad. It sounded like a crash. (brightening) And then Santa coming down the chimney with presents! Oh, it is so exciting!”
(We don’t have a chimney)
It was still magical, even though he knew exactly what happened.
For his part, Oliver slept through it all. He will still discover the empty plate, empty cup, and slightly less empty area underneath the tree. And neither boy knows about the thank you note from Santa yet. I anticipate smiles in the morning!