A few years ago, my younger son (now a few weeks shy of 14) was approaching his likely last year of believing in Santa Claus. We’d spent most of the day following Santa on the Norad website. We tracked his every move, listened to the on-line messages, and did our best to figure out how long it would be before Santa hit the Atlanta area. With Santa en route to the east coast of the U.S., my wife and I put our younger son to bed, waited until we thought he was asleep, then put the gifts in place. My younger son chose that moment to wake up, saw me moving the gift, and ran crying to his room.
I tried to console him, saying I was just moving the gift for Santa. But childhood had been shattered and Santa was a lie. “Let’s pull out Norad,” I finally said. We opened the website and I got a blessing. The site announced that Santa had just left the Atlanta area. My son accepted my explanation of my moving the gift and held to his beliefs for one more year.
Now, though, I face holidays of a different kind. My older son, now a high school senior, is focused on finishing school and college. He’s down to two choices: Mississippi State and Georgia Southern. We’ve visited both so far. Wherever he chooses, I know he will do great.
However, I also know that life will now change. A band member throughout high school, my son plans to play in the band in college. If he attends MSU, he’ll spend every Thanksgiving at school, preparing for the annual clash with Ole Miss. Georgia Southern always plays football on Thanksgiving week. From either school, it is difficult to get him home and back with holiday traffic and not be concerned about his safety and being worn out. More likely, we’ll travel to where he is to celebrate Thanksgiving. Will Christmas be the same? Both MSU and GSU are in bowl games this year and may see that experience going forward. My son might make it home for Christmas or he might have a pre-Christmas bowl game to attend as a band member. Might we have to go to him for Christmas as well?
I only know one thing. We’ll do whatever it takes to celebrate as a family.