Confession: Santa visits my kids twice every year — and honestly, I regret ever starting this tradition. I know, I know. Your immediate response is probably to think about what spoiled brats I’m raising. I get it. Why on Earth would a parent begin a tradition where Santa comes more than once? While the idea in itself sounds absurd, the background behind is not how it sounds.
You see, when I had a baby and a toddler, my mother was diagnosed with advanced cancer. Christmas is her Super Bowl, if you will. She puts up and decorates five Christmas trees, tiny Santas are strewn all over the house, and Christmas music is played on repeat. It looks like a scene straight from the North Pole . . . my mother may as well be Mrs. Claus. So, when she was struggling in the midst of both chemotherapy and radiation, a deep part of me worried it could be her last Christmas. I looked to the future and pictured a Christmas without her, and I just couldn’t shake the idea out of my head. So, I decided to make that Christmas the best Christmas ever — one everyone would remember for a lifetime.
Our family would stay the night at my parent’s house, with my mother, and the kids would wake up to presents under the tree from Santa. Then later that Christmas Day, the kids would also see that Santa visited our home as well after we returned. During this time of worry and darkness, this idea sounded like perfection. My mother would get to see her only grandchildren open presents in her own house, possibly for the last time. However, I also thought that starting a holiday tradition at our own home was important, too. It seemed like the ideal plan. Plus, I figured I’d stop one of the traditions after that one year, but the darndest thing happened. The following year, my toddler remembered that Santa came to two homes. “Santa goes to Grandma’s house then our house! Right, Mommy?” he asked.
Sigh. I didn’t have the strength to tell him no.
It’s funny. I know I could have broken this tradition somehow. But my mother ended up fighting and beating cancer, so it just kind of stuck. Since that first Christmas with two Santas, she’s had the opportunity to see five more Christmas mornings with her grandchildren. Sure, at the time, the kids were young enough where I could have made something up about why Santa had to abort one of the plans and only visit one house. But I didn’t. So, now we’re stuck.
My oldest is 7, so I may only have three or four years left of him believing in Santa anyway. While we’ll continue to follow this tradition, I’ve learned a trick. Cool Santa visits Grandma’s house, and Smart Santa visits our house. At Grandma’s, the kids wake up to toys, toys, toys (and I make a lot of them stay there). And at our house, their stockings are packed with crafts, puzzles, and books. It’s served as a happy medium for everyone. This way, our house isn’t busting at the seams with toys they rarely play with, Grandma’s house always has something to entertain the kids, and they’re getting a little educational boost, too.
While, I’m not thrilled that we started this tradition (and never broke it), I’ll admit that I love giving Grandma the opportunity to spoil the kids because just a few years ago, we never thought she’d have that opportunity again. So, in the meantime, I guess Santa can visit twice. I’ll just continue to watch my mother watch my children, and together, we’ll all believe in a little bit of magic.