The Adventures Of Fatherhood – January 10, 2020

The Christmas and New Year’s weeks were a blur.

Over the course of the two weeks, Pam and I tried to take off as much time as schools were closed. Most of us in my house woke up each day wondering what day it was. It felt like 12 straight Saturdays. It was great. Aside from a weekend trip to New York to visit family, we spent it at home together.

Though Berlin’s New Year’s Eve kids ball drop was a lot of fun, Christmas was certainly a highlight of the time off.

Long gone is the unforgettable toddler excitement for Christmas mornings, but the boys, now 11 and 10, continue to get a lot of joy out of all the season entails.

I don’t think Beckett believes in Santa Claus any longer, but he seems to want to in some ways. Throughout the year, he makes references to knowing there are no elves, reindeer and Santa Claus. He asks a lot of questions about how Santa can be real and quotes conversations with friends whose parents have come clean with them. He wants to know why we are lying to him about it.

For many years, our response to this sort of questioning was, “how do you think all the gifts arrive and all the stockings are stuffed? Mom and Dad would never be able to do all that in one night.” He would typically nod in acknowledgement. Nowadays, the topic rarely comes up. He knows the truth, but he seems to go along with it. I think he likes the idea of Santa, although he has enough practical sense now to realize the realities behind Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.

On Christmas Eve, Pam and I told Beckett we were going to treat it like a school night with an earlier bedtime. He scoffed at the idea initially, believing we were kidding, but we forced it.

As I walked out of his room that night, he said he wasn’t going to be able to fall asleep because he was too excited. I assured him we would be going to bed soon as well. I will call that a white lie for the cause. With the idea to wait him out downstairs before completing our Christmas morning makeover with gifts, we watched some of the Christmas Eve classic “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Beckett came downstairs that night at 10, 10:30, 11 and 11:30. Each time he came downstairs he had a different reason. First it was he heard a door open and close; then it was he heard packaging being opened; then he was heard a lot of footsteps; and finally, he wanted to know why we were still awake when we usually go to bed early. He made it clear what was up when he stated, “I want to catch you guys in the act.”

We then came to the realization this year was going to have to be different. We went to bed and set our alarm to wake up at 2 a.m. I didn’t even sleep under the covers that night. This was just a nap for a few hours to ensure he was asleep so we could set the stage for Christmas morning.

It was during this process when we both realized it was time for the talk with Beckett. It was one thing to stay up late putting things together on Christmas Eve while they were asleep. It was another thing altogether to have to go to sleep so the 11-year-old in the house would and then wake up at an insane time to pull off the charade. The reality, of course, is he knows the truth.

At one point, while we were shooting hoops on his new basketball hoop on a balmy Christmas afternoon, he was talking about how complicated it looked to put together. While smiling, he said, “Dad, I don’t get it, how did Santa bring this on his sleigh?” I reminded him of the magic of the season. Though he wasn’t buying it, he responded, “One thing I do know is there’s no way you put this together because you’re not handy at all. Mom probably did it.” Consequently, I ramped up my defense on him.

As for our special needs kiddo, Carson will probably always believe in Santa. I personally am just fine by it. Carson doesn’t question anything. He’s excited by it all and loves everything about Christmas morning, especially the gluten- and dairy-free breakfast casseroles his mom makes for him every year. We all really enjoy those, of course.

The big gift for Carson this year was a three-wheel bike. We have not had much success with him being able to balance himself on a standard bike. As luck would have it first thing Christmas morning, after we surprised him with it, there was a malfunction with the chain that needed replacement. He got to ride it for a few minutes. Once it was outside my realm of expertise (it didn’t take much), I mentioned to Pam I would “take it back tomorrow to get fixed.” Beckett jumped right on that slip, but we were able to get him to talk about it later with us.

When I brought it back home to Carson good to go, he believed I fixed it, flexing both his muscles. I assured him he was correct. It was the right thing to do.

With all this fun over the long break, Monday was a reality check. Carson had some challenges adjusting to his school routine, but he was not the only one experiencing difficulties on that particular day.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.