We are not big on Christmas. I don't really think this is a problem. Kai gets a lot of attention, plenty of presents, and we have a lot of really fun family traditions (especially around Thanksgiving and Orange Food Day!) And, of course, her birthday is a month-long extravaganza every year (which is likely to become all the more rockus once her baby brother has a birthday just a couple of weeks before hers.... I'm being optimistic and assuming our little eggplant (that's his size at the moment) stays put until April!) We also have a wonderful holiday tradition of traveling to Timerbline and living it up in the lodge. Most years we have a fireplace room and spend the days drinking hot coco, skiing, hot tubbing, swimming, and eating the delicious (at least in recent years) lodge food.
Which is to say, we have traditions around the holidays that we all really love. But, Christmas is not really among them. And by that I mean what a lot of other folks associate with Christmas. We generally don't get a Christmas tree (we are usually in Oregon for most of the holidays, so it has never made sense... I don't have anything against Christmas trees). We don't have a Christmas morning tradition (last year we were in a Yurt, the year before we were at Amy and Dave's house, sometimes we do presents, sometimes we don't really do presents. Sometimes we do stockings, not always). There is no annual visit to Santa Claus and we have never really spent any times talking to Kai about Santa.
In general, we try to be honest with Kai -- without overwhelming her with information. And, to us, the whole Santa thing is not in line with the philosophy of being honest. So, we've never dwelled on Santa. We didn't go out of our way to tell her that Santa does not exist. We just didn't say anything about him -- we never mentioned the idea of Santa. We just celebrated the holidays without a Santa and without making a big fuss on Christmas morning. Instead, our holiday is stretched out over many days as we travel from home to home, exchange the occasional present, stay at a world-class lodge, and mix it up with different adventures for the entire break. Santa isn't part of it.
Kai has brought Santa up before -- but, not in a questioning way. She would just say something about Santa and we would ignore her. But, kindergarten is a whole new world and the other kids are Santa-believers to their core.
Which led to the conversation we had with Kailey about a week ago when she woke up and said, "you know, Santa can see us when we're sleeping and when we're awake." Creepy, right? We both protested immediately, telling her that Santa isn't watching her every move. She insisted that he was and that he was coming down the chimney to bring her presents on Christmas if she was good. Not being able to help ourselves, we pointed out that we don't have a chimney. Kai paused and said, "well, he comes up through the vent in our hallway then." At that point, we decided to ignore her. Clearly, 5 Christmases without a mention of Santa and without ever having received a present from Santa was not enough to overcome the myth as it is powerfully presented by the elementary school masses!
A few days later, Kai turned to me and said, "Is Santa real?" Feeling like a total grinch for the conversation a few days before, I decided not to answer her directly. I asked her if she thought he was real and she said she did. We let it go at that.
And, as it turns out, this year we are celebrating a much more traditional Christmas which will play into her newfound belief in all things Santa. We will be home on Christmas morning, so we got a tree that is quickly accumulating quite the stockpile of presents. We have a bunch of things for her stocking. Initially we thought we were not going to Timberline, so we were just trying to do some things that were special at home. But, now we are also going to Timberline and staying at a hotel in Portland for several nights beforehand.
We also took her to the San Francisco Nutcracker the other day -- which is quite the event. It's at the Opera House and is really quite an amazing show. We got all dressed up, arrived early so we could take a picture with some of the dancers beforehand, and eat dinner at the restaurant at the Opera House. Kai whispered all through the performance, and has been talking about the snowflakes and the sugar plum fairy for the last couple of days.
In other words, this year has quickly become an over-the-top extravaganza complete with all things Christmas plus a lot of extras including performances, hotels and lodges (and, of course, the pools), traveling, skiing, and visiting family. I think we are setting ourselves up for trouble. All I can say is, hopefully Kai is right and that Santa is real... because I'm not sure we can sustain our ever-growing holiday tradition without him!