And so it came.

It came.   The moment I was waiting for.   The moment where my  Apple Cheeks gently instructs this momma (and daddy) to not pretend anymore.    While I’m driving – of course.

For the past fifteen [and then some] years, my dear friend Mark has been the assistant to Mr. Claus.  Yes, he’s been portraying Santa to my oldest and now youngest.  Each year a hand written letter was sent to Santa Claus with a Christmas wish list.   This letter to Santa would go out in the mail Black Friday.    By the second week of December, a letter and package would arrive to our door from the North Pole.    This magical experience for Apple was always the best.   As she would open the letter from Santa and read aloud  to us, her round-pink apple cheeks would glow as she smiled.   Little sparkles would appear in her eyes like glitter.   I love those moments.   Innocence.         In Santa’s letter he would ask about Apple’s friends, siblings, cousins and her beloved pets.    Last year Santa knew we were bringing home our puppy in January.   In the surprise box from the North Pole was a few Golden Retriever items and a beautiful set of Snow Babies holding a puppy.

No questions were ever asked.   No doubt was ever shown.

We are driving home from school heading to the eye doctor for Apple’s appointment.    After noticing [at the same time] we both shouted….   “Broadlands Center has the huge tree up! ” We agreed it’s way too early.      And this led me to the big question – are you thinking about what you would like for Christmas this year?      Just as quickly as those words came from my mouth – Apple tells me she knows it’s not true.   She reminds me of the  reason for the season…..however staying very serious in her tone….tells me how the real St. Nicholas brought joy to poor children and he was real.   By the time we left Dr. Mohanan’s office I wanted to revisit this conversation.    And that we did.    We took Murphy for a walk and we talked and talked and talked some more.

I knew this day was coming.   This is not my first.   I only wanted my youngest daughter to hang on to her childhood.   Try not to be “so cool” that it’s “too cool” to be ten.    I also gave instruction as my mother had done so many years ago.   Don’t steal another’s joy and magic.   No matter their age.

Apple quietly mentioned she had the “feeling” last year.   But added, when daddy and I were both in her bedroom tucking her in – and we heard the sleigh bells outside – it was hard to not believe something magical was happening.    Compliments of our young Redskins recruiter  neighbor and his adorable wife, ho-ho-ho’ing and shaking my Target fake antique sleigh bells behind our townhouse.

Football Superstar and I have had so much fun bringing Santa in our home – in our lives.   My favorite moment was when my husband stood on our garden shed roof shaking real antique sleigh bells directly under our kids bedroom windows – when he was about to step down on the ladder – it fell over and I couldn’t pick up the ladder quietly because I was laughing too hard and I almost lost control [you know] and the dogs somehow opened the French patio doors to join us.  Between the barking, laughing and scattering of noises I’m shocked neither kiddo looked out the window to find two grown adults looking more like thieves than Mr. Claus’s assistants.      I’m giggling at this moment – hard to type – so I’ll apologize for type-o’s.

Those antique sleigh bells that were purchased years ago in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania were not only handsome but very useful.    When we moved from our historic farmhouse I sold those awesome bells.   The woman who purchased them heard my story.   And from what I understand they were hanging in her family room next to a large walk-in fireplace.   I do hope they continue to make the magical sound I so remember.

Christmas in our home will not change.    Our traditions will remain the same.   Our faith will hold strong and the magic of St. Nick or St. Nicholas will rise to the occasion.   Our home will shine with fairy lights and glitter.  The giant tree will sit by the living room window for all to see.   Cookies and hot chocolate with be waiting for Santa.   Stockings will be hung from the mantel and filled Christmas Eve by the jolly man himself.

Nothing will change.    Well, except one little thing.   I needed to make a promise I will not sing “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas” over and over again.

Thank you Santa, umm, Mark for spreading your magic.   You’re not out of the part time job – yet!

And thank you to my family for allowing me to be that kid you tolerate and love.  I love you all so very much!

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