My children really do not get the whole Christmas concept. In the 5 years they’ve been home we’ve never been successful in getting wish lists for gifts. I totally understand where they didn’t get into Santa. I am a bit of a Scrooge about that guy. I mean, where does he get off breaking into our house at night while we’re sleeping? Why is he always watching and judging us?! That guy is a total creep. We fully disclosed that particular myth almost immediately because Mary was so terrified of him.
Over time the kids started to come around to the idea that they would get presents at Christmas time. In foster care one child got presents while another child would got one or two items per year from the Child Services stipend. Poor Marcus bounced around so much he went without the holiday more often than not.
Yeah, kid. We did. It gets a bit repetitive when he’s still confused after opening the first four packages. Imagine that multiplied by 5 Christmases.
This left Luke and I to explain a lot over the years as we forged our own traditions. Marcus’ first foster home had a custom where they would hide a fake pickle in the tree. We continue this tradition (I think it’s German) and hide a plastic singing pickle. The kids find it and re-hide it over and over until Christmas morning. Whoever finds it then gets a prize.
Luke and I have always had very zombie-themed Christmases. There are zombies in the nativity set and zombie caution tape as garland on our tree. Our living room boasts a happy skeleton with mistletoe in his mouth. Our children acclimated to the zombie theme more easily than the presents portion. They’d get absolutely rabid about trying to find out if they were getting gifts (at all) each year.
Since our children can be masterminds at sniffing out food, presents, and other items in the middle of the night we needed a covert op. If we didn’t hide the evidence all the presents would go missing weeks before the actual holiday.
Luke and I made elaborate stories like, “These packages are for a plumbing project in the attic. We just had to purchase lots of PVC piping. Don’t open them because the parts are very sharp.”
Sadly, the vague and unlikely attic-plumbing made more sense to Carl last year than hidden packages of Christmas gifts. In fact, I ran out of excuses for disappearing into the master bedroom with the door locked to wrap presents. Unfortunately, it’s a big trauma trigger for Carl when he can’t find me.
He’d bang on my bedroom door shouting, “Mom? MOM!!! What are you doing???? WHY ARE YOU LOCKING ME OUT???!!!”
Last year he was 12 and still buying into the whole December home-improvement mystery. I had to come up with an excuse so I’d usually say, “Don’t come in. I’m naked right now!”
This worked like a charm. It worked so well that an exasperated Carl outed me in the middle of a busy CVS holiday crowd.
He burst out with, “You never spend time with me! You’re always upstairs naked in your room!!!”
The stares were priceless. This kind of thing happens to me a LOT.
This year he’s 13 and he’s figured it out. He knows we have presents up here but he isn’t confiscating them ahead of time. Marcus is planning to spend Christmas here with his GF and her baby. He actually texted me some things he’d like as gifts. At 21, he is finally able to give me a wish list. Mary knows we will be visiting her on Christmas at her residential school.
This may be the first year that everyone is on board for the holiday process. I no longer need the naked attic-plumbing ruse! Everyone seems ready for a merry zombie-pickle-fully-clothed-mother holiday!!!
**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.