Earlier this week, I drove my kids through the South Side neighborhood dubbed Candy Cane Lane this time of year, and I had my usual thoughts. Mostly, I wondered what it would be like to live in the four-block radius during the month of December.
Would it be exciting to see parades of cars rolling down my street night after night or would it become annoying? What if these people want to go somewhere after dark? It must take 10 minutes just to get off their street.
If I lived on Candy Cane Lane, would I decorate the bejeezus out of my house, or would I be one of the dark, Scroogely looking places stuck between blinking, twinkling, inflatable wonderlands?
I noticed a few places were up for sale in the neighborhood. Do realtors use Candy Cane Lane as a selling point, or consider it a selling deterrent?
I think it’s great that Candy Cane Lane raises so much money every year for the MACC Fund, and I’ll certainly drive through as long as my kids are into it. But to live there? Well, that’s another story.
My kids are 5 and 6, and at this point, the holidays are about one thing: ripping open presents. They wholeheartedly still believe in Santa (along with a Jewish gift-giver we made up named "The Chanukah Man"), and although they asked for a reasonable number of gifts, they only understand one side of the holiday coin: the receiving side.
To introduce the concept of giving, I took them holiday shopping a few times, and mentioned how fun it is to buy gifts for other people. However, I’m not sure how much that message got through. I wondered if they sensed my internal nervousness over spending more money than I really have, or the fact I was more annoyed by the crowds than enjoying the present-shopping experience.
So, I am wondering what else I can do to stress the importance of giving at the holidays. When they are older, I will consider volunteering for a meal program, but I think they’re a little young for that now. But surely there are ways to demonstrate giving to little kids, right?
A couple weeks ago, I asked my 6-year-old kid what he wanted for Christmas. I thought he would say the "Wall-E" movie, or more slot cars or maybe a video game system of some kind. I wasn’t prepared for his answer.
"I want to drive the car," he said.
Unfortunately, I started to laugh, which made him mad, and he stomped away. I asked him again a few days later and, again, he said he really wanted to drive the car. This time, he tried to bargain with me, "Just in the alley?"
I told him he was too short to drive the car, and that his feet wouldn’t touch the pedals. I expected him to suggest he could sit on my lap and drive, but he didn’t. Instead, he looked at me in silence for a few seconds, blinking slowly and clearly processing what I had said.
Tonight, I'm told, St. Nick is flying over Brew City, filling shoes or stockings with heavenly edibles. As a kid, I wished my family celebrated St. Nick because most of my classmates did, but apparently, my Italian and Russian ancestors didn't dig ol' Nick.
Personally, I'm not even sure if St. Nick and Santa are the same person. If so, how does Santa find time during what must be an insane work month to make a worldwide journey just to plop a few Hershey's kisses in sneakers?
And if Santa and St. Nick aren't the same person, how was it decided who got to make the big journey on the 25th and who got stuck with the early December mini-tour?
All musings aside, I'm just wondering if I should celebrate St. Nick with my kids, or just skip it, like my folks did. Sure, it's festive and fun, but do they really need more trinkets or sugar bombs? Maybe it's because I don't have a history with the holiday, but I clearly don't get it.