There is this bell that my son keeps in his room, and without sounding going too much Polar Express on you, only he can hear it. If you didn’t know better, it looks like it is a bell that came straight from Santa’s sleigh. There was a time when grandma goofed and didn’t realize that those of us who no longer believe in Santa can hear it. But what Grandma doesn’t believe in Santa when they see their grandkids opening presents on Christmas morning.
We have been telling William that we can’t hear it because we have long since stopped believing in Santa. It happens sometime in the early teens, maybe sooner for some. If you are the oldest child, your parents sit you down and plead to not spoil Santa for their younger siblings.
For many parents, Santa really becomes a thorn in their side. You are asking leading questions of your kids, wondering what they want from the jolly old man. Sometimes you have to remind your kids that Santa has to deliver presents to kids all across the world and that what they picked out is too expensive or won’t fit in the sleigh or down the chimney… even though Santa has our cell phone number and can text us when he is here to let him in the front door. Don’t dare get this wrong, or you will be out to make quick amends telling your child, that you talked to Santa about it and he decided that he must have heard you wrong and wanted to make it right.
While Christmas has always been a special time in my life, it has become that much more special now that I am a parent. There is a sparkle in my kids eyes as they walk to sit on Santa’s lap to tell him what they would like for Christmas. Standing back watching, you see the smile of your kids as Santa asks if they have been good or not. It never fails though, no matter if they have been bad, and if we have threatened to call Santa at some point throughout the year, they are always good… because they are our kids.
Seeing their smile come across their face, brings a smile to my face, reminding me of a time when I heard that bell that my son hears. Reminding me of the year that I got my first stereo, it held 3 CD’s, could play tape cassettes (remember those) and could pick up the games off of the AM radio from Denver, Colorado so that I could fall asleep listening to the Colorado Rockies at night. Yeah, I’m starting to sound old.
But that was the year that the bell started to fade into silence for me. My gift was late, apparently that was a hot item and Santa didn’t have enough to make it to my house that year. It was the year that my parents sat me down and told me not to spoil Santa for my sister, who still believed. For a couple of years, I kept the secret, until my sister stopped believing.
But these past few years, as I start to see the same excitement in my son’s eyes that I had in the month of December, that bell, I am hearing again. I know the truth about the man, and I could hold bitter feelings towards him because he does a number to our budget every year, and I have to think about how are we going to make it work when “santa comes to our house.”
Every time my son walks into the kitchen as I am making dinner, with Joseph right on his heels laughing, because he too thinks that daddy can’t hear the bell, I start to hear it even more.
You see as an adult, Santa isn’t so much about sending some Elf who stays on a shelf, doing “bad” things around your home to make sure that your kids are good. No, Santa is about the belief that despite the times that your children are bad, the majority of the time they are good. Santa is really the overall feeling that you are doing a good job parenting your kids.
At some point, I know that the bell William currently hears, will stop ringing for him, and eventually it too will fade for Joseph as well. But for me, the bell will still ring, just as true as the Salvation Army bell people in front of nearly every door this time of year.
The bell serving as a constant reminder of the good job that I am doing as a parent, even if I’m not feeling like I am great at it. But when I start to see my grandchildren hearing that bell, maybe just maybe, my kids will start to hear the bell, and we will share a smile knowing that no matter how hard our jobs as parents become, we are always doing a good job.
There may be a time, maybe this year, when William comes running through the kitchen with the bell, that I ask what the noise is, telling him that I too can hear it, and am now a believer.