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Santa and Gingerbread

2016 December 11
by Becky

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The holiday books have been on the shelves for a few weeks, house decorated since Thanksgiving, Christmas cookies baked, and the boys have been patiently waiting to say a personal hello to St. Nick. Our holiday traditions are like second nature now, they just keep getting better each year.

This particular year is a big one for Finn. He understands a lot more, a lot earlier than I thought. Point to a picture of Santa and Finn says, “Santa Claus!” Ask him what Santa says, he’ll tell you “Ho ho ho.” Not too sure how he caught on so quickly.  Maybe it’s because he insists we read him the 1979 classic The Sweet Smells of Christmas, a book saved for us by my parents, twice a day, every day. We’re not huge Santa pushers around here, but he KNOWS about Santa and has no fear. Oh and he sings Frosty The Snowman which may be the cutest thing he’s ever done.

Ethan is also a Santa fan, yet these days I often feel he’s humoring us, especially since this year I’ve worked out a way for Santa to visit us twice, once at home and once at Gaga and Papa’s house in California. His Santa requests at age 6 are purposefully challenging. Case in point, he’s asked for a discontinued Lego set he’s sure only Santa’s elves can make. Santa did, in fact, have to hit up Ebay months ago to make this Christmas wish come true and I cannot wait to see our boy’s face when he opens it.

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We’ve tried a few Santa events around town, the last two years spent at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. We arrive bright and early to do a craft, high five holiday characters, eat breakfast, and see the Big Guy. MOBOT makes the morning really special for everyone by keeping the crowds down and the staff engaged. And this Santa. He’s really wonderful. Ethan hopped right up and started conversing about gifts. I hope he started by saying hello and asking how things are going at the North Pole, but he’d been practicing his list for a few weeks so he probably dove right in.

After a few minutes we sent Finn over. He was very excited and showed not a bit of hesitation. As parents we anticipate these moments with simultaneous exhilaration and dread…what will they do? Freak out? Smile? Cry? So I was in such disbelief over the cuteness taking place before my eyes I didn’t even think to record whatever it was Finn was jabbering at Santa. Maybe it’s better, a private moment.

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When did they get so big? Overnight? How do they know so much? How has so much changed in a year?

We headed downstairs to check out the “choo choos” after breakfast, the Gardenland Express and it’s mossy landscapes never ceasing to amaze us. Ethan likes to do the scavenger hunt, Finn enjoys walking on ledges and knocking over signs and anything else to break rules or cause chaos. But those first five minutes of train gazing, he’s riveted.

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Other holiday traditions happen between everything else. Like opening Christmas pjs on December 1. The boys were so excited to put them on they wore them far too many nights in a row and still very reluctantly throw them in the wash. Though a little pricey, Hanna jams are super soft and never wear out so I can’t wait to buy a matching set each year. They were donned for the first Rudolph viewing and during gingerbread house construction.

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Trader Joe’s provided the base for our creation this year, their “Chalet” involved making our own icing and preassembled sugar people, so it felt extra legit. Or as Ethan claimed, it was a “REAL gingerbread house”. We risked this project on a chilly afternoon post school instead of on a weekend during Finn’s nap…that’s our usual sweet spot for crafty projects. Finn was surprisingly well behaved, though, to Ethan’s utter dismay, very stealthy in his candy snatching.

What else? We did the Garden Glow in the freezing temps—it was as magical as ever. Ethan and I have a date at the Fox for Finding Neverland. The Lego Advent Calendar we scored at LegoLand has proved to be a HUGE hit, building the little figures and arranging them each morning keeps him occupied for at least a half hour. And we’re not done…there will be plenty more to squeeze into these final days of the year.

Two little weeks.
Because somehow two weeks is all we have till the big day.

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What’s your favorite St. Louis Christmas tradition? Do we need it on our list? Please share!

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