The Force Was Strong Today

Toy shopping always comes just a little early for me. Since we are Dutch, Saint Nicolas doesn’t visit on Christmas. We don’t even call him Santa — although he does wear red and does leave toys. Near the fireplace if you have one, just in shoes instead of stockings. Sinterklaas comes on December 5th, which is supposedly the saints own birthday.

I enjoy explaining this story to my friends who are mothers of other parts of the world. Because it is such a great thing as back up. Little kids are smart, you know? When they ask how Santa possibly can give toys to all the kids all over the world in one night, and “the Magic of Christmas” is starting to sound just a little too convenient, you can sit them down, put on a serious/sad face and tell the little ones they are now old enough to learn the truth. Santa cheats. He doesn’t bring all the kids in the world presents on the same night at all. There’s kids in Europe who get their presents not on Jesus’ birthday, but on Santa’s birthday. Because there’s just too many kids.

It won’t postpone the “Santa isn’t real” tragedy for very long, but it might give you another year or two.

Because I do truly believe that year where Santa becomes Mom, is one of those inevitable tragedies of life. And not just for the kids. As parents we lose something precious. We lose something very rare. No, not kids growing up too fast, although, there’s a lot of that as well. We lose the opportunity to do things for a person we really love and really do it selflessly, with the only personal reward how happy you can make them. Because they don’t even know it was you. All that effort that’s going in it, and you won’t even get a thank you. You don’t even want a thank you. You just want to see them so excited, jumping around with a smile from ear to ear. It’s a yearly ritual that reminds us that “better to give than to receive” is actually more than just some hippie-dippie holier-than-thou saying.

And objectively, the effort put into this ritual, is insane.

Last year I spend three days running all over the island, looking for this Lego box set; a large, Bionical-style action figure of Darth Vader. It had to be Darth Vader. A Storm trooper wouldn’t do. Any other Sith wouldn’t do. Luke or ObiWan really wouldn’t do. There were all these Star War characters that just wouldn’t do everywhere but not one Darth Vader. I failed. I got him a really nice red light saber instead.

(I have some very bad experiences with things getting lost in the post ordering things online for Sinterklaas is not an option)

So when I walked into the store today, imagine my surprise when, behind all those other Lego Star Wars action figures was one last, lone box with Darth Vader. I wasn’t there to shop for toys yet. That was planned in for next week. I had only so much cash on me, no card. Worse, I had my son with me. But I was not leaving that store without that Darth Vader.

People, I should have won a poker tournament with the face I put on. I managed to get the box to the register, without either of the kids noticing. I paid for it and asked if there was anyway I could leave it to pick it up when I was by myself.

Turns out, that store has hired a actor to come in December 2nd as Sinterklaas to hand out toys to kids personally! They will get a bag of sweets and something to drink as well. All you have to do is buy the present and put the name on the list. My kid is the second one on that list with a paid for present. Which means he will be second to get called by Sinterklaas.

All kinds of unexpected perfection.

Only now, with Vader secured, am I thinking of getting a Luke. I mean, the kid will need a Luke. I’m sure Darth Vader will have a blast fighting — and winning, no doubt — the Bionicals and Knights. That’s just not really the same thing.

And I will happily spend days running around doing my damnedest to try and secure a Luke Skywalker. Is it weird to look forward to frustration? And my 5 year old will never have any clue of the time and effort mommy has put into this. He will shower his gratitude over some actor in a store. I don’t want it any other way for some years yet. It’s the best thing ever.

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