Monday, December 30, 2013

A Thank You Letter To Santa For What He Didn't Bring Us

Dear Santa,

I hope this finds you well and resting up following your 15 million mph Christmas Eve journey. I assume you are now either on a beach in Bora Bora sunning that Belly Belly, or en route to  your annual detox at the Betty Crocker Clinic for Frosting Rehabilitation. And I know you've had more than your fair share of mail in the past month or so, so I won't take much of your time.

I just wanted to say thank you. Of course, thank you for the obvious- all the gifts you brought, the memories we made, the great times we had. Cheers to you, big guy. How you manage to get it done each year, spreading laughter and loot to an average of 822.6 houses per second, is truly amazing. I can barely manage to deck my own halls and here you are bringing joy to the entire globe in a night. Wow, just wow.

But more importantly, I want to thank you for what you didn't bring. As I'm sure you will recall from your NSA-worthy pre-holiday surveillance program, my little boy (who is not so little anymore) lost both his front teeth in December. And of course, every adult he encountered (including me) serenaded him with one of the worst Christmas songs of all time (second perhaps only to the one with the donkey): "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth…" and he'd happily sing along, adding Legos, a remote-controlled helicopter, and a pair of ski gloves to the chorus.

And many of those things appeared under the tree: the Legos, the chopper, the gloves… but no teeth. Not in a package, not in a stocking, not even in one of the "Happy Birthday" gift bags I ended up having to use when I ran short on tape (and the will to live) after hitting the wall during the annual all night wrapathon. No teeth. And for that, I thank you.

Because somehow I have the feeling those teeth will mark the beginning of the end of something so simple and sweet. It won't be long before that innocent little gaping grin will be replaced by a sullen scowl, a snide remark, or worse yet- silence. With those adult teeth will eventually come adult worries, adult responsibilities, adult fears, and at times, the weight of the whole adult world.

Santa, the move from "little boy" to "big boy" has already been heartbreaking enough. Have you seen the other side of the clothing store- the one where sizes don't have a "T" after the number and instead of footy pajamas that say "I Stole Mommy's Heart" they have ripped up jeans and t-shirts with skulls and crossbones and snowboarders? Not that there's anything wrong with snowboarders, I just didn't get the memo that at age 6 my son automatically switched from Team Mom to Team Shaun White.

There are other sure signs he's growing up, and I'm not just talking about the shoes he's rapidly outgrowing, or the inevitable obsession with bodily functions. I can already see him looking at the world in a different way, realizing that not every story has a happy ending, and not all boo boos can be made better with a bandaid. I know that he's becoming more and more aware of loss, of hardship, and his mom's inability to actually kiss away all the pain.

And he also now has really stinky feet.

So thank you, Santa for not delivering on the front teeth for Christmas. I feel like you've bought us some extra time, and I promise to use it wisely. I promise I will laugh at his nonsensical "Knock Knock" jokes, I will  cuddle and tickle him until my arms ache, I will hold his hand in public, I will keep the magic alive, and keep him young as long as I can.

Adult teeth can wait.

For now, I still have a sweet little boy with a big gaping grin.

And for that, I am eternally grateful.

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