As a three year old, Ian understood a good deal more about the holiday season, and thus exhibited a greater deal of excitement for Christmas as it approached. While it was an absolute whirlwind of activity, I have to say that was our best Christmas yet.
We began with a fun trip to the lake for our yearly cabin Christmas party for my mom’s side of the family. Nana bought Ian his first hot wheels track, which kept him incredibly busy, especially once Charlie arrived. Friends make everything so much more fun. Ian picked out a dump truck to give Charlie for Christmas (because Ian firmly believes that everyone on the planet should have a toy dump truck) and Kathryn ended up getting Ian a new bulldozer and dump truck set, so the boys were able to scoop up and haul hot wheels trucks from the end of the track back to the beginning.
Our next stop on the Christmas carousel took us back to our favorite stand by, Rock City.
Charlie joined us with his mom and Gangee for a beautiful evening through the lights in the Enchanted garden.
We didn’t get the opportunity to visit a tree farm for Christmas ’15, but Ian selected a beautiful Fraser fir from Food Lion and provided extensive help in decorating it. But then we set up a small tree in Ian’s room, at his request, and he began “borrowing” ornaments from
the big tree to decorate his small tree… which created quite a few bare places on the big tree. While we decorated the tree, and strung lights going down the horse
fence, and set various decorations around the house, Ian and I discussed Santa. I firmly believe children should believe in Santa. This may have resulted from the extrordinary efforts my mom had to go to in order to keep my belief system in place.
On the bus ride home from second grade one December day, a bully told me that Santa was not real. When I arrived home, I shared this new found information with Momma. She was furious. Of course Santa is real. Why would this other child tell me such lies? The next day during Spelling, the school secretary buzzed my teacher’s intercom to ask me to come to the office. A summons to the office will terrify any child, but as a perpetual people pleaser, I couldn’t even imagine how terrible it would be. I stressed the entire way down the hallway, just to arrive to a beautiful flower display. The card with my floral delivery explained that Santa wanted to bring me flowers himself, but he was so busy preparing his toys and flight plan for Christmas Eve that he just didn’t have a spare moment to get away, so he asked the florist to help me out. Santa is real, y’all. And he uses Wicks Florist.
So as I follow in the family tradition of deception, I explained to Ian all about how Santa would come down our chimney, climb out of our wood stove, fill up our stockings, and leave presents for him under the tree. For two weeks Ian would look at me, then at our wood stove in disbelief. On Christmas morning, he looked at the size of his train table, then back at the pipe on our wood stove, and announced that Santa must have built it after he brought it through the stove.
Ian’s Granddaddy and Grandbobbie arrived on Christmas Eve. They came in for a tenderloin dinner complete with Yorkshire pudding and wassail, and helped Ian hang his stocking. We set out a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa, and even left the stove door open to give Santa easier access to the living room. As soon as Ian went to bed, we started cramming his stocking full of goodies while Brinn and his dad went to work assembling Ian’s big present: a train table. It’s a go
od thing Brinn had the foresight to assemble it before Ian woke. I can’t imagine how much longer this confusing process would’ve lasted with a three year old helper.
For once in his life, Ian did not wake up at 5:00 am, so I had to help him out on
Christmas day. I leaned over and whispered in his ear, “It’s Christmas. Do you think Santa ca–?” Ian bolted out of bed and took off for the living room. I pointed out his new packages in the tree, wrapped with a different paper than we used, that must be for Santa. I’d hoped to put the train table off for last, because once he set eyes on it, I knew he’d be reluctant to leave it for anything else. After a quick scan around the living room, Ian bolted for the white sheet with the giant red bow and ripped the sheet away. And indeed, I had to beg to get him to leave it periodically throughout the day to open his additional presents.
After Ian finally unwrapped all of his gifts, we loaded up and headed over to the ranch. Our Christmas breakfast tradition continues. The MSR boys and I prepped and baked about 6 dozen cinnamon rolls a few days earlier, so we settled into yummy iced goodness for breakfast and admired each other’s new gifts while Ian packed in a pillow fight with Ben. Then it was back to the house to wait for Grandpoppa to arrive so we could spend the rest of the day lazing around the house and watching Ian enjoy his new toys.
Each year Ian becomes more fun, and increases his understanding. He delighted in selecting and purchasing small gifts from the dollar tree using dollars he earned doing extra chores around the house for a few weeks. He sometimes helped carry up a few extra pieces of dry laundry that I just couldn’t fit in the basket, he carried the ash bucket out to the garden to dump a few times, and he even helped carry groceries in. Out of all the gifts he selected, I think he was most excited about the pizza pan he got for his Aunt Joy.
We broke down quickly this year with birthday and travel plans taking place soon after Christmas. The morning after Christmas began the process of repacking ornaments and decorations, and removing the tree. Ian’s fa
ce just fell when he learned that I planned to throw his beautiful Christmas tree out in our fire pit. He couldn’
t understand why we would put him through the horror of burning his beloved tree. After some carefully worded promises about putting up a new tree NEXT Christmas, he finally negotiated decorating for Valentine’s Day in exchange for disposing of the tree.