I had a nice chat with Santa Claus during Sunday morning’s Knights of Columbus breakfast at St. Columba in Chicago’s Hegewisch neighborhood.
With the delicious smell of pancakes and French toast wafting through the air and the chatter of happy families spending time together, the man in red and I talked about his job and how someday my son will be happy to see him.
Santa told me he’s been doing this 15 some years and that he’s happy to see younger kids in attendance. The older ones have stopped believing in him, he said. Still, he enjoys watching them grow up over the years.
Now he has a new batch of little guys and girls to receive his presents and candy canes and most importantly, to believe.
Our son has met Santa a few times this year and hasn’t been too overjoyed with any of the encounters. The Hegewisch Santa told me not to worry because by next Christmas, he will understand better.
Before I became a mom I didn’t understand when I’d hear parents say, “you better behave right now or Santa won’t bring you any presents.” I never wanted to use Santa as a pawn in the battle for good behavior, but as they say, parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about and the hardest job in the world to do.
I thought about that this week as I caught myself telling my soon-to-be-2-year-old that Mickey Mouse was sleeping in his TV. We had watched the same episode of “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” most of the morning and it was almost naptime when I came up with the clever idea that Mickey had to go to sleep.
I turned off the TV and we said “night, night” and “shhhhhh” and he seemed happy with the fact that Mickey was still there but taking a little siesta. Maybe this pawn business isn’t so bad.
I realized that parents don’t use Santa to be manipulative. They use him to make their lives and their kids’ lives easier and yes, more magical. I definitely have a lot of learning left to do about parenting.
Maybe in a year or two when a tantrum is coming or a mess is made, I will be the first one to bust out the Santa is watching line. For now, I’m happy that he finds magic all around him whether it’s flipping on the light switch or seeing snow on the ground or even saying night night to Mickey.