Monday, December 27, 2010

The Christmas list of a child

Once again, it is that special time of year. It is particularly exciting in the Ryerson household because our children are now both of the age of understanding the spirit of Christmas. When I say they understand, they know what Christmas truly means – the birth of Jesus and the spirit of giving. But like most kids, they also know it means gifts from Santa. In fact, for the first time, my son has prepared a “list” for Santa. He values that list as much as anything he owns and he is constantly revising it (when I say “revising”, I mean adding to it).

Just before Thanksgiving (a little premature to me, no thanks to Wal-Mart’s Christmas displays), he asked for a piece of paper and pen and started the list in detail. What is most entertaining about this effort is that he does not yet know how to write, so the “list” was a well organized, bulleted list of scribbles. Eventually, my wife simply suggested he circle the items he most wanted in the sales catalogs that were coming in the mail daily (thanks to you too, Target, Sears, and Toys-R-Us). You probably already know where this is going . . . yes, he circled everything in the catalog (including wrapping paper, which was a bit strange, but I guess he wanted his gifts to look nice too).

Because he values his list so highly, he ultimately assumes everyone else does as well. An example of this belief is when he recently got in trouble at preschool. When asked about the incident by my wife on the way home in the car, he compounded the situation by lying about it (a fatal flaw we all made as kids until we realized, mommy’s know EVERYTHING). My wife confronted him on the lie and he immediately apologized. Knowing that he needed to do more to make it up to his mommy, he said, “Mommy, what do you want for Christmas?”

“I don’t know,” she responded.

“Well, mommy, I’m going to get you something from your list.” Problem solved, right? Just get something off of mommy’s list and the world is right. I must admit, I’ve tried that as a solution to some of my own trouble in the past. He’ll soon learn that doesn’t fix everything, but in his case, he does have the cute factor over me.

“I’m going to make you a birdhouse . . . I’m going to make you four birdhouses!” If one is good, four must be great, right? My wife responded by laughing and saying she would love that as a gift and smiled the rest of the drive home. That cute factor is very effective.

Tonight, after driving around the community and looking at Christmas lights, or “Mismer wights” as my daughter calls them (talking about cute factor, we actually don’t correct her from saying it incorrectly because it is so adorable), we got home and prepared for bed. My son crawled on the bed next to me and whispered, “Daddy, don’t forget, we need to build mommy a birdhouse for Christmas.” When did this become “we”? I didn’t lie about getting in trouble at pre-school!

Nonetheless, hearing him whisper in my ear his desire to “give” rather than to “receive” (even if it was originally inspired by making up for a lie), let me know we are doing something right. This week, we’ll be going to the hardware store to buy supplies to build mommy a birdhouse or maybe four. . . and we know she’ll love it, even if it wasn’t on her “list”.

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