Christmas seems remarkably subdued this year, and I’m sure it’s not just us. In comparison to other years, the Christmas songs as stores are muted, fewer expressly-for-Christmas items are on the shelves, and the mall (at least whenever I’ve gone) is uncrowded. But Kelly is carrying the Christmas spirit for all of us. I set up a Christmas craft for her almost every schooling day, and she embraces it with enthusiasm, and as much as I can muster to help her, does more and more. Our tree is now hung heavily with Kelly-made and Kelly-beglittered ornaments, and the bulletin boards have Christmas “lists” she’s written giving good cheer to everyone from Santa Claus and her family to the Tooth Fairy and Captain Underpants. She insisted we put our Christmas lights up as soon as possible and has participated in massive cookie bakes. I was even motivated to make a hobby horse for Kelly with a dowel, a sock, and one of Peter’s worn out pants.
Our holiday season started with Thanksgiving. Our Thanksgiving was low-key, and we just had steak and potatoes instead of a turkey we’d be not eating for the rest of the week. I turned one of my army of fall pumpkins into a pie, and Peter had the children help him make an apple pie that turned out beautifully:
Peter got up early the next morning for the Black Friday specials, but it wasn’t really anything special. He bought an XBox at Target, but none of the other offers we’d seen in the paper or online were compelling this year.
The next weekend, we went downtown early for the San Jose Christmas Parade, which is always wonderful. And even better this year for us, since Peter’s office is right downtown and faces down upon the parade route. Nontheless, we went downstairs for a street level view closer to the park where an announcer told us who was who and the performers would play or dance for us as they passed by. We saw middle-school-to-college-level marching bands (the San Jose State marching band being particularly impressive), beauty queens, balloons, local politicians, all sorts of dancing troops, and of course, the star of the show, Santa Claus. The parade has no particular theme, so we also saw the Sons of Liberty celebrating the Fourth of July, and Darth Vader and Storm Troopers, but that’s really a big part of its charm, too.
Santa was taking a break between the parade and taking Christmas wishes as the Santa House, so in the interim we bought and decorated Christmas trees for our home and office. Then Kelly and Neil waited to see Santa. Some protest was going on over by the Basilica, but they were incoherent, so we couldn’t figure out if they were Proposition 8 protestors, anti-Capitalism hippies, or Mumbai massacre awareness folk. The only sign we could make out was “Honk for Peace” even though honking for peace actually disturbs the peace, and everyone (including terrorists) is always saying they want peace.
Anyway, for the first time, Kelly actually got up the courage to talk to Santa directly, and she told him (as she’d written earlier) that she wants a pogo stick and a stuffed-animal kitty. Neil told Santa he wants A New Kind of Science, even though I think Neil’s already read that tome twice over. Santa reminded them to leave out cookies for him, and gave the kids candy canes after we’d all posed with him.
The next week turned out to be less hectic than I was afraid it would be, and on Tuesday evening, we decided to go the Christmas party at Borders, where our favorite storytime person, Andrew, works. To our surprise, at the 6 pm starting time, we were the only guest for the party, but it meant Kelly got 2 storytimes, and our whole family participated in coloring Christmas tree decorations. I took a break to walk around the mall, during which more children appeared for the party, and Kelly won some prizes in a snowman toss and Santa Says. At 7, I was back to enjoy the highlight of the party: a group of carollers Andrew had gathered together from his family and church.
The songs were deliciously Christmassy, unlike the watered down for political correctness and fear of Christianity songs in public schools. Kelly adored it and even adopted a caroller as a temporary grandmother.
The next day, I had to take her to our favorite thrift shop so she could get Christmas-themed clothes like the carollers had. She now has a top with candy canes and a playtime-friendly red velvet dress. But she’s still wearing her Superman outfit most of the time, because nothing says festive like…super-heroes.
So, thanks to Andrew, Santa, and Kelly, we’re slowly catching on to the Christmas spirit.