This year I am honored to share with you the Military Holiday Guest Blogger series hosted by the popular military spouse website, Riding the Roller Coaster. It’s an annual tradition that started as a way to connect military spouses with each other, and it has evolved into a well-followed and widely publicized military event. Check out my guest post over at Chambanachik, and be sure to peruse the great list of other guest-posters at the Official Blog Swap Page at Riding the Roller Coaster.
You’re going to love my guest writer, Rebekah Sanderlin. She’s an Army wife, a mother of two (with number three on the way) and a journalist who lives near Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She writes a blog called Operation Marriage (www.rebekahsanderlin.com) about military family life. Her work has published and aired at the likes of NPR, CNN, Huffington Post, USA Today, PBS.org, and blogs at the Washington Post and New York Times. In addition to all of that (and infinitely more important), she’s a fabulous person with a penchant for humor and she harbors serious control issues, just like me. I’m so pleased to bring her on board for my very first guest post!
Witty Little Secret guest post
By Rebekah Sanderlin
I’m not exactly sure how to start this. Guest blogging is like being invited to a party where you’re assured they’ll be tons of nice people, but then you get there and realize that you don’t know any of them. So you drink too much and eat eight mini quiches before you can split someone off from the herd long enough to start up a conversation.
So here goes…
The other day I was at the dentist dealing with my high-maintenance tooth. I have this one tooth that is now probably worth more than my car because I’ve had so much done to it — and it’s still not finished. There I was, kicked back in the chair, wearing the dollar store sunglasses and staring into the light as the dentist and hygienist worked to max out my Tricare dental benefit.
The two of them were talking nonstop, though occasionally they’d pause to ask for my thoughts, and I would say, “Argle bargle fargle schtop,” because that’s how it sounds when you talk with a pair of hands in your mouth.
Anyway, the dentist was telling the hygienist what her 8-year-old son wanted Santa to bring this year when the hygienist interrupted her to say, “We don’t do Santa.”
That made me smile — which is also hard to do with hands in your mouth — because I have a ridiculously dirty mind. To my thinking, for “us” to “do” Santa would mean having a three-way with someone dressed in a Santa suit … and while I’m sure that takes place in many homes during the holidays, it’s not exactly a time-honored tradition in mine.
But then her words sunk in and I realized this woman meant that she didn’t participate in The Great Christmas Hoax. She had opted out of the parenthood conspiracy that calls for millions of grown people (billions if we assume that China and India are in on it, too) to speak convincingly of elfin magic, flying reindeer and fat home intruders who manage to slide down chimneys in the wintertime without getting stuck or burned.
“Argle bargle fargle schtop,” I said adamantly, forcing them to remove their hands. I repeated, “What do you mean, you don’t do Santa?!”
The hygienist explained, “Our son is three. We don’t want to lie to him and then one day have to admit that we lied. He might not trust us. We’d rather just tell him the truth about everything.”
“I bet she’s a vegan, too.” I thought.
She continued, saying that her little boy will be just as happy opening presents from his parents as he would opening presents dropped off by Santa and the reindeer.
Well, maybe when he’s three, I thought, but wait until he’s six and he doesn’t get the one thing he waits to ask for until 11:15 p.m. on Christmas Eve. That’s when the Christmas magic makes for an awfully handy excuse. “I bet Santa was already on his sleigh and didn’t have time to go back and get it, Sweetie…”
What’s she going to say then? I wondered. “Life sucks, kiddo. You should have asked sooner?” That kind of ruins the appeal of Christmas, don’t you think? I was aghast.
Here’s the thing: Christmas is a lot of work and it costs a lot of money. My husband and I will be belt-tightening until the tax refund comes in just to pay for all this excess. So, the very best part of having kids at Christmas time is watching their little faces and hearing their little voices as they get all excited about Santa. We even double-down on the lies in my house by moving the Elf (whom my 7-year-old son inexplicably named “the Black Samurai”) to a different Shelf every night.
You see, as a military mom there are things in my kids’ lives that I choose to be honest with them about, things other parents might opt to hide — things like war. When my husband deploys, my kids know that it is because “Daddy has to go fight the bad guys.” Which means that they know there is evil in this world and that there are people who do horrible things to other people, sometimes for no reason at all. My children have friends whose daddies have been killed in combat and friends whose daddies are missing limbs, and so my kids know that war is not safe. We don’t dwell on these things and I don’t volunteer scary or gory details, but I do answer their questions honestly. Living in a military town where the Army is the largest employer, I don’t really see how I could choose otherwise.
But, with all the ugliness in the world, maybe especially because of all the ugliness, I think kids deserve a little magic. What’s the harm in believing that a benevolent fat guy is going to squeeze down our chimney and leave behind (hopefully) exactly what they asked him to bring? Where’s the downside to fantasizing about a magical place with elves who make toys and reindeer that fly? They’ve got the rest of their lives to figure out the truth.
But I didn’t say any of that to the hygienist. Her child, her house, her policies — that’s how it works. Maybe she’d take issue with the pictures in my kids’ rooms of their dad dressed in full “battle rattle”… And I’m sure she wouldn’t understand why I need to stop writing now so I can move a rosy-cheeked white gnome called “the Black Samurai” off the chandelier while the kids aren’t looking.
Hey. My house, my kids, my rules.