Santa Brain

NS December 4th, 2009



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You know how some people claim to have ‘pregnancy brain’ or ‘mummy brain’, wherein they attempt to explain why they can’t concentrate on anything other than their offspring, but which is really just code for I Haven’t Slept in a Year and/or These Kids Are Hard Work And Parenting Sucks Every Last Drop of Energy Out of The Space Where Caring About Current Events, Interacting With Other Adults and Having Hobbies Or A Social Life Used To Be? Well, there’s a new one I’d like to add to the list: Santa Brain (or Father Christmas Brain for the British readers).

Josie is likely wretching at the thought, but I have already been sucked into the Christmas Vortex, the depths of which I shan’t return from until the January sales are upon us. I know, I know, it’s only December-the-bloody-4th and there’s still three weeks until the jolly man in the red suit squeezes his corpulent frame down my soot-laden chimney and the little George Jesus lays down his sweet head, and I’m an atheist and a cynic and have never been big on Christmas¬† and all its capitalistic, religious-driven dogmatic glory. Believe me, I know this.¬† I’d never EVER have pegged myself as a ‘Christmas Person’ but this year has been different.

Maybe it’s because my sister is coming in two weeks and I’m more excited about that than anything, or that The Noble Child is finally at an age where she truly grasps the concept of the holiday that has melted this Grinch McScrooge”s tiny, icy, bah-humbug heart. Maybe it’s the way her eyes sparkle and the way she claps her hands in gleeful anticipation at the merest mention of Santa and his reindeer that has me all warm and fuzzy ’round the aortic valves. This uncharacteristic soppiness is the reason my house is already festooned with decorations, why we’ve been listening to my Christmas mixed cd since yesterday and why I spent an hour and a half on all fours with a pair of scarves tied around my middle to fashion a harness for Santa (aka TNC in a Santa hat) to hold while I guided the sleigh (armchair) through the night sky (living room), passing out toys to all of the children of the world (The Noble Baby and the cat). It was the most ridiculous but fun way I’ve spent a Thursday afternoon in a long time.

Maybe it’s because when I explained to TNC that not all children get toys on Christmas and that she needs to be very thankful for what she has, her little face crumbled but then quickly lit up as she declared, “I will give all the children my toys and they will be happy again!” and that when I asked her if she would help me wrap the winter scarves, hats and gloves I donate to a homeless shelter each year, she looked me in the eye and said “Of course I will, Mummy! People need to stay warm on Christmas.”

Whatever it is, and however much it might ruin my ‘street cred’ amongst those who dismiss it all as corporate-driven bumpkis, I have rediscovered the magic of Christmas and the element of humanity that it brings out in us. And at a time when so much is going on, with the kids and my career and with my personal life, it has given me back something I’ve been missing for awhile: hope. That may be incredibly corny and hokey and mawkishly sentimental and all the rest of it, but since Christmas is a time to celebrate birth (even if I don’t buy into the whole story behind that particular one), it feels really refreshing and and wonderful to forget all the horrors and injustices of the world for just a little while and let my cynicism be replaced by optimism and a childlike sense of wonder at the world.

This ability to be humbled and step back from the bigger picture to celebrate life’s small joys is one of the most powerful gifts that having children has given me.¬† So please forgive my Santa Brain — my normal one is still there, it’s just busy being dipped in gingerbread houses, holly wreaths, elves and reindeer games. Ho ho ho!

You hate me, don’t you?

13 Responses to “Santa Brain”

  1. TheMadHouse says:

    Oh I am so with you on this one. Havint children at the age of 3 or 4 just does something to you. Their joy, excitment, hope and faith in all things Christmassy if something fantastic to behold. We have up the tree and the decorations and the outdoor ones will be done over the weeken – outdoor tat I hear you cry. Yes because the minimads demanded them last year!!!

  2. Yes, yes, yes! Though I love Christmas, anyway, having a child of around 3 or 4 makes it so much bigger and more important and more fun and just really makes it magical again, rather than just about eating lots of food and drinking lots of booze. I love it and we will (hopefully) be putting up the decorations on Sunday. And I must dig out the Christmas MP3s, too.

  3. HA! Of course I don’t hate you. I love Christmas as much as anyone, and am a bigger kid than most, I just think it should be reserved for a smaller time scale! That’s just me though – I enjoy it more if I save it for a couple of weeks a year rather than dragging it out.

    Christmas for me begins next weekend. My dad is off to China over Christmas and New Year so we’ve booked a cottage and are all arriving en-masse for an early celebration. I’ll stop bah-humbing then… I promise ;) xx

  4. andrea says:

    christmas is going to be so fun with the kids this year, especially TNC! i’ve just got to convince her that she needs to leave wine for santa along with the cookies…

  5. april says:

    That is lovely :) and mostly why I like Christmas and even acknowledge its existance at all…Thank you for sharing…

  6. Irene says:

    You’ll become your old cynical self soon enough again when your child is big and has flown the coop.

  7. Lyn says:

    Christmas brings out the child in all of us and that is the true joy of the season. To step back for just a while and look at the world through a child’s eyes brings hope and wonder to our otherwise overwhelmingly burdensome sense of responsibility. Even if you don’t believe the whole religious aspect of the season, it is this sense of hope that lifts our spirits. And as long as you are teaching your children about both receiving graciously and giving whole-heartedly you will be able to enjoy without all the guilt. So embrace the holiday. It only comes round once a year. Merry Happy Joy to all of you!

  8. the bad aunt says:

    It is easy to become (and stay) cynical but that can be a pretty miserable place if you are the one trying to fight all the battles on every front. One will never be lonely there, but may be void of other fulfilling positives in their life. Yes, others will join the cause and chime in with support and cheer someone on, but then go back to their happy place, leaving that person to continue being their voice. One can becomed obsessed, consumed, and exhausted and forsake a lot of the important things and people in their own life. That is why people like someone else to lead the cause. For sanity’s sake there must be balance. For every negative there must be a positive out there. So I have tried to make it a habit to spend equal time seeking out the good in people.
    There are so many good people doing good things, big and small, to help each other every single day. Often, the feel good stories get neglected by the media because there is no contraversy. Once the story is told, it is over, so why would anyone need to “tune in tomorrow”-it is all about ratings (oops – my cynical head rearing again). But during the Christmas season the media gives more attention to humanity and that I feel is why we feel more renewed at this time. We quit trying to find the ugly in people for a while and can revert back to a childlike innocence.
    So in closing, seize the moment, be a kid again, and enjoy having Santa brain, life is too short to miss out on times like these!!
    Love to all of you

  9. Chloe says:

    Ohhh I am so there with you!!! Having a three-four year old at christmas is proving to be an incredible amount of fun. I have completely rediscovered the magic of christmas and am enjoying at for the first time since I was a kid!

    We made an advent calendar together and each day there is a special christmas craft or activity. It’s only been a couple of days since our celebrations began and already our house is full of handmade decorations and a magical christmas feeling :) Maaike is so excited… I am like a kid again getting excited for her! can’t wait until christmas morning for her to wake up, rummage through her stocking, see the cookies we left for santa eaten and presents and magic everywhere. I wish this stage would last forever!

  10. Geekymummy says:

    Even us athiests need a bit of magic sometimes.
    I’m going all out, and I’m dragging geekydaddy, the scroogiest grinch of all, into the christmas spirit too. Enjoy!

  11. A Free Man says:

    I’m trying really hard to get into the Christmas spirit this year. It’s still hard to do Christmas in summer, but with two kids I’ve got to try to suppress my Grinchy McScrooge personality.

  12. Hey, if Richard Dawkins sings Christmas Carols I think you’re OK…. ;)

  13. Iota says:

    No I don’t hate you. I think it’s great.