Thursday, December 25, 2003

Being Santa

One of the things that went really well today was that David (age 6) and I went to Wal-Mart together and he picked out three gifts for his sister Irena (age 4). He chose for her some finger paints, a little doll and a box of Pop Tarts. Then I took Irena and she picked out three gifts for David. She chose a hot wheel car, a little motorcycle model and a Lego game. We've never done this before so I wasn't sure how it would work.

The shopping experience was nearly identical for both. It took them each about 20 minutes to look around and scope out all the possibilities. Then they picked their gifts. I was surprised that they really got into it, that neither one of them ever said, "here's what *I* want," that they both chose three gifts instead of one, and that the total in both cases came to almost exactly $20 without any input from me.

Tonight David and I wrapped Irena's gifts. Then Irena and I wrapped David's gifts. Then the three of us together wrapped Mom's gifts (which we snuck out and bought last week). It will be interesting watching David and Irena exchange their gifts in the morning and seeing what happens.

Then everyone went to bed. One of the things about having four young kids is that the probability of all of them ever being asleep at once is fairly small. Tonight I got lucky, and everyone was asleep just after midnight. Normally Leigh and I would get out all the presents together, but she had passed out as well after a very long day.

What this meant is that I became Santa tonight. I snuck around the house and pulled the kid's presents out of their hiding places, assembled some stuff, wrapped a few stragglers, and arranged them all under the tree. I put stuff in the stockings, ate some cookies, drank some milk. I did not "play the role of Santa." For my family, I actually am Santa. I am the physical embodiment of a concept that I've heard about since my earliest conscious memories. It is probably the effects of too much eggnog this evening, but for some reason that is a very interesting feeling.

Tonight I am thankful for my wife and children, for their grandparents and our families. I am thankful that David is healthy, and for the doctors, nurses, scientists and engineers who have helped him this year. I am thankful that I have a place to sleep, food to eat, and clothes to wear. I am thankful for all the friends who called and wrote to me today, for no reason other than the fact that they are good friends. I am thankful for everyone who helps to make these blessings possible.

Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

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