Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dear Santa . . .

With the news of the Sandy Hook School shooting weighing heavy on my heart it is difficult to think of any story worth telling this week. As a mom and a school counselor I struggle to hold back the tears and wonder . . . what if? . . . And so I think of my boys who are not really boys anymore and feel amazingly blessed to have been allowed to watch them grow into the young men they are today.

I remember when Russell was small and wanted to write his first letter to Santa. He got the idea on Christmas Eve and was smart enough to know that a letter wouldn’t arrive on time. So being the smart omnipotent mother that I am I quickly informed him that it would be ok because I had Santa’s phone number and we could call Santa. Russell thought this was a great idea since he was only two and didn’t know how to write anyway.
We placed the call to Santa (my dad’s good friend BobMorehouse) and I listened in while Russell talked to Santa. He told Santa that he’d been a good boy and that he only wanted one thing for Christmas, a sister. Wow! I was stunned. I was pregnant, but Russell did not know that. There was no sister on Christmas morning but six months later a baby brother arrived.

The next Christmas we placed our call to Santa again. I listened while Russell told Santa that he’d been a good boy. He told Santa that all he wanted for Christmas was a sister. He thanked Santa for the brother but insisted that this year he wanted a sister. Oh my.
No sister, or brother arrived that year but Russell remained steadfast in his belief in Santa. We again made our Christmas Eve call to Santa. I listened in again as Russell told Santa that he’d been mostly a good boy. He told Santa that he only wanted a sister and then said that it would be ok for him to take his brother back and leave a sister.

Again no sister arrived and Joel remained but Russell stayed true to Santa. On Christmas Eve we made our call to Santa. This time Russell did not mention a sister. But as he said his prayers that night I heard Russell, “Dear Lord, I have asked Santa every year for a sister but he’s never gotten me one. He gave me Joel but won’t take him back. I know you probably don’t want Joel either, but can you give me a sister for Christmas? I’ll be good. Amen.”
Needless to say Joel stayed and thanks to the prayers of Russell’s parents, no sister arrived either. But Russell remained a steadfast and vocal believer in Santa long after it was developmentally appropriate. In fact, I remember the year Russell was in sixth grade, Joel came home from school and told me that if I didn’t tell Russell there was no Santa he was going to. He told me that he was afraid Russell was going to get beat up on the playground if he didn’t stop telling everyone that Santa was real and that he knew his phone number!

Through the years I am quite certain that each of my boys would have liked to send the other back to Santa or anywhere for that matter. And truth be told there have been moments in which I’ve wanted to send them both back. But this Christmas as I watch them decorate the Christmas tree and hear them laugh about calling Santa I know we are blessed and I am incredibly thankful.
Today my heart breaks and my prayers go out to the families who have lost so much. This season I will hold the memories of my boys near and be ever so grateful to watch the young men, the loves of my life, decorate the tree. Their presence is my greatest gift.