I have to admit that the Christmas photo session did not go as I hoped. I moved our tree to a different location this year and while I love it there, the light is horrible and didn't work for the photos at all. And it was raining outside, so that put a damper on outside photos. But I had a deadline and the rain wasn't letting up anytime soon, so I stuck an umbrella over my daughter's head and bribed her to stand on the deck for a few minutes in the rain. (Please tell me that is totally normal behavior...) That resulted in this:
Yes, that is an umbrella in my Christmas photo, but I guess some years you just take what you can get:)
With the photos printed, all my Christmas cards addressed, the Christmas letter written, and everything ready to drop off at the post office tomorrow, I could finally turn my attention to a relatively new Christmas tradition that we have. Last year, we took Gemma to see the Army Band play at the DAR Constitution Hall in DC. I remember worrying about whether she would survive the whole concert, but she had a good time. She wanted to go again this year and my trusty friend once again procured tickets for us. This year, we mixed it up and saw the Navy Band, which my husband kind of liked because he is a former officer with the Navy.
Before the concert started, Gemma and my friend and I were talking up a storm and not paying much attention to what was going on around us. Then my friend pointed out someone we didn't know who was chatting with my husband. My husband was using his "military voice," which is the voice he uses to show the utmost respect to other members of the military when he meets them. It turns out the gentleman he was talking to was part of the performance, and he'd spotted a young child (our daughter) and asked my husband if he could have her name. You see, he would be coming out as Santa Clause later in the show and he wanted to make sure Gemma felt special because she was sitting right near where he was coming out. (Seriously? How cool is that?)
In years past, this would not have been a big deal because Gemma didn't believe in Santa. We've never really addressed it one way or the other although she knows who Santa is from movies. But we haven't done the whole Santa-brings-you-presents thing. Or the Santa-knows-if-you've-been-good-or-bad thing. He's just a Christmas character.
Well for some reason, she started believing in Santa all on her own this year. My husband and I were woefully unprepared, and thankfully she hasn't noticed our bumbling when she asks questions like, "How does Santa get to all the houses in one night?" My husband, "He's really fast." Me, "He has a lot of assistants, like elves." Gemma, "What are elves?" Me: "Is the oven on fire again?"
Anyway, when I found out about Santa coming out for the show, I casually mentioned to Gemma that I heard a rumor that Santa might stop by. She lit up with such excitement and spent the whole concert looking for him (periodically announcing a little too loudly, "That's not Santa"). Finally, near the end, Santa was introduced and came in right by our seats. He said hello to Gemma, and this is the face he got:
And it occurred to me that maybe having your child believe in Santa is more than just a child believing in something magical. Because it's pretty amazing to see this look on your kid's face.
So thanks to the Navy Band full of talented musicians who were capable of playing traditional Christmas carols, a hysterical version of the Christmas can-can that included 5 grown men acting like Rockettes and singing "Let It Go" (from the movie Frozen), a breathtaking African song from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in a native language, country Christmas songs, and a full on, knock-the-house-down rendition of O Holy Night (my favorite Christmas song), plus a kid who believes in Santa, I have my Christmas spirit back!:)