This may be our last year with two Believers in the house. Greta, who is 8, still firmly believes in Santa Claus. I don't know that this will be the case next year, and I'm trying to wallow in their wide-eyed wonder at the miracle that is Christmas.
After the death of Rhino the Hamster, Steve and I decided to get them a new pet. "No fur," was my only rule, which left lizards, snakes and fish. So I amended my rule, "nothing that eats insects or other things with fur."
That left fish.
We bought a 20 gallon fish tank, a filter and some special sand. The kids gleefully ran up and down the fish aisle of the pet store, pointing to their favorites.
The kids nodded solemnly, and went home to ask our Elf on the Shelf to please pass along the news to Santa that they'd realllly like some fish for their empty tank.
We set the tank up in their bedroom; it has a light that functions as a perfect night light, and the hum of the filter lulls them to sleep each night. It's a little sad, this empty tank, but the kids aren't bothered. "I hope Felix (the name of the Elf) 'members to tell Santa to bwing fish," Finn said last night.
Greta's response was a bit more practical. "I'm trying to figure out how Santa will get the fish here without the water freezing," she said, her brow furrowed. "I think I know. Santa has a special pet compartment in his sleigh, and he'll keep them there. And then he'll bring them down the chimney really carefully."
I smile and nod, and wonder how on earth we're going to sneak those fish into the tank Christmas Eve without waking them up. We may be in over our heads, here.
"It's okay if Santa doesn't bwing da fish," says Finn. "Da tank is willy beautiful anyway."
I love their undiluted faith in Christmas. In this crazy-paced, instant gratification society we live in, it's refreshing to see them happily - and patiently - wait to see what will happen.
Yesterday as I rushed around making orders, cleaning the house and folding laundry, the kids got their snow gear on (all by themselves!) and went outside to play. We have about five inches of pristine snow on the ground, and they were rolling around making snow angels. I glanced at the clock: 3:30pm. I still had several things to do before 5pm, but I dried my hands, slipped into my snow boots and headed outside.
"You know what this snow is perfect for?" I asked. "Making a snowman!"
"YAY!" they screamed. "Let's make Frosty!"
"This will be perfect," she said, as she stuck oreos into his face for eyes, and down his belly for buttons.
I can be cynical about Christmas. The rampant consumerism, the pressure to have the perfect Christmas, makes me kind of insane. But there is something magical underneath it all, if I remember to look.
And I've come up with a plan for the fish. The Elf is going to deliver the fish before we head out to church. The fish will be his present to the kids before he heads back up to the North Pole until next Christmas.
Today I have a few more things to tick off my list, and then I'm going to stop, and sink into the beauty of it all.
Happy Holidays, everyone. No matter what holiday you celebrate this time of year, I hope magic comes your way.