After a hiatus last year -- when we visited the rather soulless, yet admittedly quicker, department store Santa across town -- we once again braved the throngs (and the rain AND the dueling DJs blasting ear-splitting hip-hop on the perfume floor, which nearly made me flee the scene before we even made it to the North Pole) at the Herald Square mothership.
We teamed up with Baby G and her mom, which made the excursion all the more festive, and once again I was impressed with the well-oiled machine that is Santaland. All of the elf attendants, as well as Mrs. Claus, were in high spirits, and the line moved blessedly fast. Felicity high-fived multiple elves and gawked at the glittering, kinetic expanse of the North Pole as we made our way to Santa's village. She really felt the magic this year and was sufficiently awed by all of the displays, though when we got to Santa's cottage she balked at sitting with him alone, so for the second time I got to be a part of the photo op.
Santa was unbelievably calm, gentle, and sweet (especially considering that we were probably the 1567th people he'd seen that day -- but then, he IS Santa, so I suppose I should expect no less). When he asked Felicity whether there was a special toy she might want for Christmas, she spontaneously abandoned the toy she'd previously told me about 546 times that she wanted (a "walking, talking kitty cat toy -- actually, FIVE walking, talking kitty cats and a big stroller to push them around in"), and said out of the clear blue sky that she wanted a rocking horse. Santa responded that he'd do the best he could, and then he said in his kind voice, "I have a feeling this is going to be the best Christmas ever." Honestly, it kind of made me want to cry, it was all so perfect. (Aside from the rocking horse announcement, because...huh?)
On the subway ride home, Felicity inexplicably grabbed my hand and pulled my finger toward her mouth, and my nail scratched her lip the TINIEST bit, leaving a microscopic wound. Well. She bonelessly flung herself against me and wailed, "This is the worst thing IN THE WORLD, to have such pain as this!" So at least she wasn't being melodramatic about it.
That night before bed when she and I were having our nightly Snuggle and Talk, I mentioned casually that I wasn't sure we had room for a rocking horse in our apartment. She raised an eyebrow and said, "Trust me. There is room for a rocking horse." Allllllrighty, then.
Saturday morning, Felicity got a set of angel chimes in her Advent bag, and we put them together and lit the candles right away so she could watch it spin and hear the bells. She sat back as the cherubs whirled around and said, "Mama, I love the angel chimes. It was so sweet of you to set them up for me!"
Then during breakfast, she looked out the kitchen window and exclaimed, "Look at the lines in the sky!" I started to explain that they were contrails from airplanes, but then I changed course and said, "I bet those are from Santa practicing flying his sleigh last night!" She gazed out at them and murmured to herself, "I'm going to have to thank Santa for making such beautiful patt-rens in the sky."
That afternoon, we had friends over for some hygge (Danish coziness, i.e., drinking and eating by the Christmas tree) and Christmas crafting. I am usually not much of a crafter, but I impressed myself, I must say, by figuring out how to make woven heart basket ornaments from a kit in which the only instructions were vague sketches labeled in Danish. Must be my Viking blood.
When they left, she crashed in a big way (evidently while I was weaving paper hearts, she was eating two pounds of Andes candies and Hershey's candy cane kisses -- have I mentioned that she doesn't do well with sugar?), so we pulled out "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and watched it from a collective posture of collapse on the couch. I have to say, that movie does not hold up as well as some of the others. The word "stupid" is used an awful lot (in our house, that is a Verboten word), and all the bemoaning of the commercialization of Christmas is just a bit over the little ones' heads. Really all you need is the last eight minutes or so. Frankly, I'm not sure Felicity grasped any of it, but she liked the musical interludes well enough.
Afterward, I tried to interest her in some dinner, but she laid down on a couch cushion on the floor and declared, "I am DONE with this day! I just want to go to bed!" Since it was 5:30, we could not oblige her, but I did stash her into bed post haste once 7:00 rolled around. She managed to redeem herself from the drama when I was kidding around her and asked what she would do if she didn't get any Christmas presents at all, and she said, "Well, I could still get your love." I MEAN.
Sunday morning, after an Advent bag gift ("Mommy, it's so fun to get more pieces of the Nativity scene!"), a visit by St. Nicholas to Sunday school, and a rehearsal for the Christmas pageant, we came home for lunch and some play time, during which Felicity somberly pressed pieces of dried wax into our hands saying, "This is for Christ, for Heaven" (I assume it was her approximation of "The body of Christ, the bread of Heaven," so clearly the weekly practice of the Eucharist has sunk in). Then we headed out to the Historical Society to check out their children's museum. It was so great: a museum that isn't MOBBED with people and does not sap every ounce of my energy within five minutes of arrival, and Felicity loved all the hands-on displays and the "history treasure hunt" she was prompted to do by one of the docents.
When we came outside afterward, snow had begun to fall. We went home, popped popcorn on the stove, curled up on the couch with the tree lights on and a blanket over us, and watched the Grinch. This one DOES stand the test of time, although Felicity's understanding of the plot was a little hazy. "Mama, I think the Grinch is giving all the children toys in their stockings [as he is stealing everything in the Whos' houses]! Look, he's hanging up wreaths [as he's pulling down every wreath in Whoville]!" When he took all of the Christmas loot up the mountain, she said, "The Grinch is just being silly! I think he's going to say I'm sorry to the doggie for not being nice to him and then he's going to give everyone hugs." When it was over, she wanted to watch it again.
I haven't done so well with photographing all of the Advent fun thus far, but I did get a few shots the other day, when our little house-elf announced that she wanted to go to school "dressed like a Christmas present":