It's almost 8 a.m. here in Casa Trois and Anna is dancing around the Christmas tree, making up her own words to "Deck the Halls."
"The-se stockins ARE FOR SANTA!" she belts impressively, before looking over and seeing the snack I'm handing Lily.
"CAN I HAVE A GRA-AHAM CRACKER? PLE-E-E-E-EASE?"
I satisfy her craving for Nabisco and watch her prance near the tree. After last night I'm just glad she's not hiding from it.
But to explain last night, first we have to go back to the weekend.
I explained in a prior post ( http://athreeringcircus.blogspot.com/2012/11/do-they-know-its-christmas-time-at-all.html ) that we don't really 'do' Santa, preferring to explain it as a fun game, and that, despite the creative ideas rolling through my head, Tim was ambivalent about spending $30 on the Elf on the Shelf. Not that I blame him. That's a lot of money for some felt and plastic, even if it does come with a book. I consoled myself with promises of after-Christmas sales (white tree, you will be MINE!) and let it go.
Until sometime over the weekend, when I was indulging in some wine with friends, and a Facebook notification popped up from another friend, alerting me to a Barnes and Noble sale where said elf and book was $13. I got excited and immediately ordered. (Okay, in the interest of full disclosure I may have been sliiiightly tipsy and I may have had to try two or three times to successfully complete my order, and I may have babbled about it to Tim juuuust a little too much, but the point is, that was a really good bargain and the Internet Deal gods do not wait for perfect sobriety.)
Fast forward to yesterday, when I got the shipment e-mail. I decided to try and get the kids ready for the elf's arrival, which I decided we would name Sprinkles. (Yes, I know, you're supposed to let the kids name it and maybe I will, but when I was pregnant with Lily, Anna wanted to name the baby nothing and Mary was lobbying hard for Apple Juice. I'm not optimistic about the next several years with Poopy the Elf or somesuch.)
I gave them the basic gist. I made sure to use the key words "story" and "fun game." But you know, at that age, they don't really separate reality from fiction so well. Mary was looking at me with shining eyes.
"It's AN ELF?" she squeaked.
"Yep!" I said, glad she was enjoying the fun.
"And it goes back to the NORTH POLE?"
"Yep!" I replied, and she grew even more excited.
"AND IT PLAYS JOKES ON US?"
"It does!" I said, practically glowing with the pride of a Good Mother Who Has Given Christmas Magic. Anna piped up.
"Is it gonna eat us up?"
I paused. I told her no. Then I realized that she was grinning at me, and that this was one of Anna's "jokes." (Other "jokes" that day had included announcing she really has to poop while at the playground, less than 10 minutes after our arrival, whereupon I loaded everyone up and rushed them home, only to discover the clever ruse. So this was at least funnier than that, which made me wish I could start drinking at 4 p.m.)
The evening carried on. I went in the bedroom to put away some laundry and came out to discover Anna had quite literalyl started taking apart the Christmas tree. She was holding a bough in her hands and reclining back on the other lower branches, sitting on lights and displacing the few ornaments I'm silly enough to leave at child level.
"ANNA!" I exclaimed. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"
"Nothing," she smirked, as I tried to fix the tree.
"Ohhhh Anna," I muttered, and then turned and winked at her. "Maybe I *should* let that elf eat you up." I smiled at her. The look of absolute horror that she gave me told me that earlier had not, in fact, been a joke.
"I DON'T WANNA GET EATEN UP!" She wailed.
"Oh honey!" I said. "It's not going to eat you up! The elf is a story! It's pretend!"
"I DON'T WANT THIS CHRISTMAS TREEEEE. I DON'T LIKE CHRISTMASSSS ANYMOREEEE."
"No!" I said desperately. "Honey! Listen to Mommy! Mommy was kidding because of your joke! The elf is a story! A game!" She started to calm down. She eyed me.
"It's just a fun Christmas game," I said. "It isn't real. Like Santa."
From behind me, I heard Mary gasp.
"SANTA ISN'T REAL?"
I whirled around. I couldn't tell if she was serious or not.
"Honey, Santa is a game, you know that. Mommy and Daddy told you that. We visit Santa at the mall and write letters but it's a game. It's a lot of fun, but it's a game. You know that."
"Ohhh," she said. "Wow, I can't wait to tell all my friends at schoo-"
"No way. You do NOT tell the other kids that. IF YOU DO THAT I WILL GET YOU NO PRESENTS."
Anna stopped crying. Mary wandered off. I'm not sure if she believes in Santa or not, but I think she's cool as long as there's something under the tree with her name on it. I kicked myself for being the worst mother EVER and bought about $25 worth of baking supplies to make Christmas treats today to make up for it.
Muddy Buddies make everything better.
The "elf" should arrive any day in the mail. I showed Anna pictures this morning and she seemed okay with the idea.
"That elf looks nice," she said. "I like that elf. Not like that other elf. He hits me."
I decided to leave well enough alone there.
Fa la la la la.