Occasionally, I come across a moving essay about kids and their "last times" emphasizing that you never know when you're encountering one...until you look back. The last time your little one asks you to kiss their boo-boo and really thinks it makes a difference. The last time they pad into your room at midnight thanks to a bad dream. The last time she plays with her Polly Pockets and the last time he races around the house in a super hero cape.
These essays always move me and make me think about the "last times" my kids have already had. The last time Laura and I played tea party with tiny shells for cups. The last time Joe pulled out his alphabet blocks to make a tottery tower and proudly exclaimed, "Look, Mommy! Look at my tall, tall castle!" Then I start thinking about the finales still awaiting me as they grow up and I am a teary-eyed wreck.
As bad as these surprise endings are at least we parents have some bit of ignorant bliss leading up to them. This year I am facing a biggie; a really big, huge ending in our household. At 7, I am pretty sure that this is the last year that Joe will really, truly, deep-down-in-his-heart, believe in Santa Claus. And if he's anything like his older sister, he will pretty quickly discern that the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and classroom leprechaun are also pretty fantasies that we've been endorsing since his infancy.
After a decade of having a believer in the house -- a sweet little tot with rosy cheeks who put out cookies for Santa, who became a long-legged boy painstakingly printing a letter to the jolly old elf -- we will become a family of strivers. We'll have to strive to put magic back into the holiday. Strive infuse some bit of cheer into the phrase, "Well it's actually the SPIRIT of Christmas that counts!" Replacing, "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" with that classic ode to the Christmas spirit, "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus."
If this is the final year, I vow to do my utmost to enjoy it. I'll help Joe write his best ever letter to Santa. We'll give him the biggest cookies and put his milk in the tallest mug. We won't forget the reindeer. We'll give them the juiciest carrots we can find. I'll take full advantage of the "naughty and nice" list, too, as one of my strategies for keeping my little guy in line. Yes, if we have to say goodbye to Mr. Claus, we will do it in style!
Love you old guy. It's been great having you in our lives and better than great to get to relive this cherished part of my own childhood. When Joe and Laura are much, much older and have kids of their own I look forward to getting reacquainted. In the meantime, dear Santa, let's say au revoir instead of goodbye.