This column is dedicated to the most strategic Santa I ever knew, my mother-in-law, Kathryn Grace Laurilla Eiden, aka Kay. Sept. 27, 1936 – Aug. 7, 2021.
Here we are, no matter our age, enjoying this festive season of all things hoped for and we’re also up to our ears perfecting our fibbing skills. Lying gets a pass this time of year, at least in my book, and Santa gets a bad wrap from adversaries of happiness. I once had someone tell me that she and her husband hadn’t told their toddlers about Santa because they were afraid that when the children got older, they might never trust their parents again. I laughed heartily. I was and am a phenomenal liar at Christmas: Exceptional, magnificent, extraordinary and perhaps unequaled. Leviticus 19:11 says, “… neither lie one to another.” Well, I think God turns the other cheek at Christmas, and the reason I think this is because the Bible also says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” and there is nothing more joyous than believing in a good-hearted, jolly old elf, decked out in a red coat and black boots. I once asked our adult children if they thought I’d deceived them with Santa. They scoffed, “Heck no.” The second-born and self-proclaimed wit looked thoughtful then remarked, “You deceiving us about Santa – no. When you made dinner and told us it’d be good – yes.”
To anyone feeling Christmas is only for the celebration of Christ’s birth, I’d point out that Jesus received gifts, and not cheap fare either. His was gold, and at today’s prices, would be $1,700/oz, frankincense, $6,000/liter, and myrrh at about $12,000/liter.
Gar and I were brought up knowing Santa, but Gar’s mom, Kay, was a sensational Santa, and the reason I know this is because her boys were nearly adults before they questioned Santa’s existence. When they were raising their four boys, my in-laws, Garry and Kay Eiden, would load the kids up in the car on Christmas Eve and ride around town looking at all the Christmas lights. Upon their return, there under the tree would be gifts from Santa. Gar remembers two years vividly, one when he received a bicycle with his name on it from Santa, and once, a .22 rifle. Since this happened every year without fail, Gar swears he never considered anything amiss and was a high school freshman when he realized some things may not have been as they’d appeared. He was at football practice, sitting on a hay bale, when two teammates were discussing Santa and it dawned on Gar that he’d been hoodwinked. I’m going to repeat – Gar was in high school. His mom was a fabulous festive fibber and my Christmas lying hero.
Christmas was a special time when all of Garry and Kay’s boys got married. We would meet at Kay’s house for Christmas Eve and again for dinner later in the day on Christmas. Kay made most of the meal including several pies, rolling out her own chunky, yet flaky, crusts. Her peanut brittle, the likes of which nobody else on earth will ever master, was deliciously snappy, yet melted in your mouth. It was exquisite and the only thing I ever asked her to make. I miss it already.
One year, our third son tested me with, “This Christmas, I’m asking for a rollercoaster and a Ferris wheel for the back yard.” I replied, “Christmas is like an elk hunt, sometimes you get what you want and sometimes you don’t. We’ll see if Santa can fit those in his pack.” The next year, his 6-year-old sister boldly announced, “I’m asking Santa for a horse.” Cool as a cucumber, I took her to the window facing the back yard and remarked, “Do you see a rollercoaster or a Ferris wheel out there? No you don’t, because Santa didn’t have room in the sleigh. Unless he’s went from a compact to a full size, he won’t have room for a horse either, but A-1 idea.”
As I sat on my sofa last night enjoying the twinkle lights, I read from Ecclesiastes 9:7, “Go, eat your bread with joy…” I paused, thinking, then nodded my head in realization. When God mentioned enjoying your baked goods, He meant cranberry, pumpkin, potica or cinnamon bread. God was not referring to fruitcake. If you’ve never trusted me before, trust me on this one thing. God is good and would never use joy and fruitcake in the same sentence.
Merry Christmas, may the Lord bless you till your cup runneth over.
Trena Eiden [email protected]