Making the List

It’s been quite a while since I had little kids on Christmas morning.

For the last several years, Sydney “the typical teenager” sleeps in until 1-2pm. Our reign of Santa ended when she stopped believing, and of course, in recent years her Christmas mornings have been in Mississippi with her dad.

Christmas morning has been just another morning. No joyful moments of waking up before the sun to see what Santa brought. Hey, it happens. Children grow up. The magic grows up with them and that’s the end. Unless…..

You become a step-mom of two little girls ages four and six who still believe in Santa Claus.


Enchantment returns…….and let me tell you something, it is a treasure trove of goodness to have it back.

Christmas Eve in my family was the night you opened EVERY present under the tree that was wrapped. The next morning Santa would leave his unwrapped gifts around the tree.

That was our tradition.

Jason’s family has different traditions. They open everything Christmas morning, including the wrapped Santa presents.

So that is what we did, except I let them open two presents Christmas Eve (in honor of my tradition).

Bridget, age four, has been my absolute favorite this year. She believes in Santa Claus 100%. She takes everything Santa related with absolute gravity. She got shy and nervous when we took her to see the Santa at Santa Land. She wouldn’t even sit on his lap.

When we told her he wouldn’t bring her anything if she didn’t tell him what she wanted. She got brave enough to stand at the edge of the platform nervously wringing her hands and telling him in a loud clear voice her Christmas wishes. It was the sweetest thing to witness that earnest belief in all it’s sincerity.

Because Santa… real to a four-year old.

Molly, age 6 (and a HALF), is quite different. She knows the Santas in Santa Land are the “fakes”. But she also knows the real Santa sees EVERYTHING..especially when you are bad. I can not even tell you how great that is. Every mis-behavior is reprimanded with an, “Oh my GOSH, Santa sees you! He is going to bring you NOTHING!” Followed by a look of how could you let Santa down like that.

I mean it works……for a few minutes anyway.

I think that’s part of the magic of Christmas. Santa might not come. He might skip your house. Did you really make the list?

Then, there is my favorite ruse.

“Does he know you are HERE? What if he goes to your mom’s house?!?

I was assured Santa got a very detailed letter explaining where the children would be and on what night. He was making two stops one at dad’s and the next night at mom’s. And, didn’t you know? He sees everything and knows where you are.

Oh yeah.

Santa came!

I had fun this year and fun with the new traditions. Coming from a family that never wrapped Santa presents, I used special Santa wrapping paper. I had Jason go out on Christmas Eve to buy labels to use. They couldn’t be like the other presents, right? I mean, we have a six-year old sniffing out fakes. Let’s be real.

I must say, I was impressed. Jason added an empty milk glass and cookie crumbs along with a letter from Santa, in the same writing as the Santa tags. It was genius. I don’t think I ever got a letter from Santa on Christmas day. Apparently, that is another tradition in their family.

I went to bed more excited than the kids. I couldn’t wait to see their lit up faces and their happy grins. Surprisingly enough, they waited until the sun came up.

Christmas Morning. Upper left, Jason and Molly reading Santa's letter. Lower right, the pile of shredded wrap reaches the height of one of our big dogs. Not sure where little Brownie is...

I woke immediately upon hearing their door open (and I’m a heavy sleeper). I heard them enter the living room with whispered excitement. It was a flat two seconds later that they crashed open the bedroom door.

Dad, dad, dad, dad! Come look!

We didn’t move. They ran back to the living room and we listened. Molly was saying, “Oh MY! Oh MY!” Bridget, I couldn’t quite understand. She was saying something over and over in an excited rush.

What she said?

“We made the list! We made the list! We weren’t too bad!”


Before they could tear the presents to bits, we got up to witness the carnage of my all-day wrapping.

It was brutal. It was savage. It was perfect.

I got many hugs and kisses from both girls. They hugged daddy. They hugged puppies. They even hugged each other.

Those were the happiest children in the world…because? They made the list!

Now, hopefully, they will make the list next year.

Santa is watching….

25 thoughts on “Making the List

  1. Jason

    They did indeed make the list! It was something special listening to their joyfulness at a visit from Santa. It was extra special sharing their joy with you!


  2. It makes such a difference when you have children around who really cherish the magic of Christmas. I wish I had a whole brood! (Well, I can at least wait until I have a man to make this brood with). Happy holidays! Looks like you all had a wonderful time!


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  4. I love the idea of a letter from Santa too!
    I never thought to add that to the list of traditions, thanks for sharing – I think I will implement this (my children are 1 and 2 so there is still time to start next year)


  5. How wonderful! & what fantastic photos… I suggest finding a way to keep the magic alive for yourself with or without the children….. after all, as Walt Disney once said “Too many people grow up – that’s the real trouble with the world…”

    I like to say I’m only playing “grown up” 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by my blog – Happy New Year (hope it’s enchanting!)


  6. How magical. Christmas is always so much fun when you have little ones who still believe in Santa. I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas in your family and the girls enjoyed all their presents!


  7. “We made the list! We made the list! We weren’t too bad!” Wonderful!
    Funny, my family had the same tradition as yours; open Christ. Eve, unwrapped Santa on Christ. Day and my husband, also opposite. We worked it out about the same way : )


  8. Sunflowerdiva

    Oh, this is just wonderful! It sounds like you had a really nice Christmas!

    When I was little and still believed in Santa, my mom had this little pillow that said “NICE” on one side and “NAUGHTY” on the other. For those years she gleefully used that pillow–and I did everything I could so it would stay on the NICE side. Anytime I was bad or refused to do something she flipped it to NAUGHTY, and I freaked and was suddenly her little angel. LMAO! It’s always amusing when kids will be especially good just so Santa won’t put them on the bad list.

    Happy New Year!


  9. Maddy

    Celebrating with the little ones for the holidays is the absolute best!! They bring back the child and magic of the season in all of us! Glad you had a great Christmas! The girls look so adorable in their matching jammies 🙂


  10. Oh how fun! My family adjusted. I remember at first we had unwrapped Santa Gifts on Christmas Day along with wrapped gifts from mom and dad and family. But I believe my family got tired of me at one point — I was a shaker and a begger. I would beg and beg to open presents. So it turned into opening wrapped presents on Christmas Eve and getting unwrapped “Santa Presents” on Christmas Day.

    I am happy you had so much glee in your house.

    But you do have a little mean streak in you don’t you? Telling the girls that Santa might not even know where they are. Tsk, tsk!


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