With swaying fancy dresses on hangers filling the back seat windows, I sped from work to pick up the girls and meet Pat for our annual trip to visit Santa. I don’t know who would be more nervous - the girls or myself. For the past few weeks we’ve been trying to explain the big picture to Treya. Even Devi has been trying to help. I caught her one morning filling a holiday pillow case she had just received from one of our generous neighbors with her toys. With Treya totally engrossed, toddling behind, Dev unpacking her sack and neatly arranging the toys under our Christmas tree, all the while explaining to Treya that this is what Santa does for good boys and girls. Later DeeDee did the same, as she set up her play nativity, explaining where all the major players go and what their role was in His glorious birth. The Christmas story, the many nativities that adorn our house, the decorated hearth, Santa and his reindeer, shopping for a needy family, the lights, Advent calendars - the list goes on and on. For a newly transplanted two year old, it is a lot to grasp. All the while, Treya has been carrying the past framed photos of Devi and Santa around, fascinated by the pictures and trying so desperately to figure it all out. One day she brought a frame to me, pointed her finger to Devi’s spot on the jolly ole guys lap and exclaimed, “Me, me!” the signal that she was ready to take the next step.
Quickly changing clothes in the back of the van and primping their slightly disheveled nap time hair, the four of us were off to join the “good girl” line. A near disaster occurred when daddy threw Devi up on his hip to safely cross the parking lot of anxious shoppers behind the wheel. Devi’s shoe hit the bag of cookies especially chosen for Santa in daddy’s coat pocket. The word mutilation comes to mind as we all stared down at the bag of crumbs that once formed a pinwheel and gingerbread sweet treat. What followed was a teary small meltdown, as Devi was crushed (no pun intended) with disappointment. Quick thinking, I said, “No worries, Santa can’t have cookies while on duty anyway because his white gloves would get all dirty.”
Excitement mounted as we edged ever closer to the big green stuffed chair, recognized by Devi right off as the spot where the jolly guy sits. I kept a keen eye on Treya, who goes along with things pretty well, until her uncertainty gets the better of her and she retreats (refer to pig post when we visited the Puyallup fair). She was doing great, meeting other kids in line, twirling in her pretty dress and making her bouncy pony tails bounce. Devi was glued to the TV monitor set up to keep the kids in check, watching scenes of Christmas movies flash by and yelling out the characters she recognized.
Finally, with just one family ahead of us, it was game on for Dev, who stepped up to the edge of Santa’s carpet, smoothed her dress, pushed back the dainty wispy ringlets that have always naturally formed right at her temples and readied her list for a prompt, yet accurate display. Treya on the other hand was beginning to get that deer-in-the-headlights look - the look that is all too reminiscent of when she first came home and would hide under the furniture. Slowly, she began to inch back behind daddy’s legs to hide. About that time, Santa’s helper motioned for Devi to come forward. Dev proudly marched up and started making pleasantries with Santa. In a panic and fearing that Treya may bolt down the mall corridor to flee the situation, I reached my finger down for her to hold for security.
In that split second, Treya peered around daddy’s leg, saw that Devi was in mid-conversation with the large bearded man. Taking a deep breath of confidence or feeling suddenly extremely competitive, I don’t know which, she chicken winged her elbow around daddy’s knee to push him behind her, making way for a clear path toward that jolly old elf. Grabbing her own list from my hand she muscled her way, roller derby style, up to Santa, just in time to hear, “You princesses look so beautiful!” That is all it took. Treya was smitten. Her bravery brought tears to my eyes, such a change in her we’ve seen in eleven short months.
Both girls made the best of impressions, politely explaining their list and delivering their good behavior resumes. Expressed with superb articulation, Devi asked for a razor scooter and books...educational books that is. I thought it was kind of cute that she specified the educational part all on her own; our studious one. With a bit of translation required of me, Treya asked for an elephant. A live elephant. When we made the lists days earlier, we explained that we have no suitable enclosure for such a large pet and hygiene would be a major issue. Who would scoop the?...well you know. Mostly, however, Santa does not deliver live animals, as it is unsafe for them to make a journey like that in a sleigh. Thankfully, Santa’s rules did not change as he expressed his same concerns. Treya also asked for coffee...for her momma. Our sweet and thoughtful girl.
Sealing the deal, Santa gingerly granted each girl a Merry Christmas with a candy cane sucker. Turning to go, Treya put her tiny hand in his monstrous gloved one to say thank you. Her beautiful brown skin contrasting with his lilly white glove making her newly formed fingers that much more apparent. To this Santa gently kissed them and waved bye bye. Both girls blew kisses back which Santa caught on his rosy cheek with a grin.
As I escorted the girls away, Devi said, “He is so nice, momma.” and Treya confirmed that thought with “dood mah, momma...dood mah!” which means, “Good man, momma, good man!” Adorned with paper antlers that Treya would not take off until she landed in bed, we all heaved another sigh - Pat and I so relieved that this years Santa experience was so positive and showed so much growth in both our girls. For our sugarplums, dreamy sleep came easily, knowing that their wish list was finally safely in the hands of Kris Kringle himself.