"Sure, Charlie Brown! I can tell you what Christmas is all about!" Linus van Pelt
At our Church Emmett was one of dozens of kids who answered questions about Christmas. Emmett was not in a talking mood and to several questions his response was "Ti Ti". This is his nonsensical response with no meaning that he is fond of giving, usually with a smirk, and especially when he just doesn't want to answer. Obviously, none of his 'Ti Ti" responses made it to the video but his final answer did. The question was 'what is the importance of Christmas' and what Emmett shared with the world was, "Lots of presents!" And this is so true. Emmett does like presents! What little kid who is honest would not say presents. However, limiting the importance of Christmas to presents would be vastly underestimating this little boy.
You see, for Emmett Christmas is so much more. Much more than presents! After all, Emmett is a hard core fanatic about Santa Claus. He adores Santa Claus. He talks about Santa Claus throughout the year! It could be a blistering hot summer evening and Emmett will look up into the night sky and exclaim, "Santa Claus!". It isn't that he is brainwashed into believing about Santa. Or that he is surrounded and overwhelmed from birth by Santa figurines. In fact, there are multiple Nativity Creche's in his grandparents' homes and in his own home. Emmett has his own Playmobil Nativity Creche. At his grandparents' houses he very reverentially picks up and looks at the baby Jesus before gently replacing the baby in the manger back in the proper spot in the stable with Mary and Joseph. The Baby Jesus in his PlayMobil creche is far more active and, one could even say, miraculous as it often flies about the stable. Lest we forget, his daddy is a pastor so, of course, Emmett knows the nativity story of the Baby Jesus.
Yet still, it is Santa that Emmett searches for in the night sky. When Emmett had the opportunity to participate for a second time in the Santa Flight hosted by Canuck Place and Air Canada, there was no question about it. Emmett was going. It was great fun - after about 10 minutes of flying on a typical B.C. overcast day, Emmett asked his parents when they would start flying! Ha ha ha. Santa was on the plane, and that was awesome for Emmett the Santa searcher. He has, in fact, actually asked his mom if Santa is real. Put on the spot, Alisha kindly and carefully discussed and chatted with Emmett about the concept of Santa. Mommy and Daddy bought the presents. Grandparents bought the presents. Santa Claus lives in all of us through the gift of giving. But there is no Santa. It was clarified. There was now no question about the reality of this jolly fellow. The facts are the facts. In his 4 years and 10 months, Emmett has come face to face with many facts that most kids never have to realize. Facts like not being able to walk, not being able to swallow, not being able to - well, these facts go on and on. This is the harsh reality that Emmett lives daily. So when it comes to facts about Santa Claus, a fictional being that Emmett loves, then suddenly the truth and the facts are completely irrelevant - as even after this careful discussion he still absolutely believes in Santa Claus. He just wants to.
Emmett is focused on one word right now, constantly asking every adults' favourite question, "Why?", over and over until he is satisfied with the response. Just as large as his desire for factual information is his love of play. His imagination is incredible and the fictitious worlds that he creates in play are immense. The untold hours that we have spent searching in the 100 Acre Wood for Christopher Robin, whose voice we can hear (it's actually Emmett pretending to be Christopher Robin) but C.R. himself remains elusive and unfound, are seriously endless. (Did you know that it is very challenging to find a Christopher Robin doll? But even if we did find one, that would spoil the game so we don't want one.) In this case, he wants nothing to do with the facts. For the same reasons, Emmett wants Santa Claus - just not up close and personal. That is too much. From a distance only, please. Otherwise he will simply look the other way so that Santa Claus cannot be seen.
It is Christmas, however, and we have to tell you that Emmett absolutely got some presents. Some would say he was spoiled with presents. I would say that in some cases, perhaps the term spoiled would be appropriate but here, with my grandson Emmett, I will become quite defensive, protective, and even angry should you say he's spoiled. Bringing joy to a little boy who cannot walk isn't spoiling. Giving laughter to a little boy who cannot reach out and grasp something due to his limited movement isn't spoiling. Expanding the imagination of a little boy who is fed through a tube is not giving too much. You may disagree with me and that is fine. When you've had nearly 20 lumbar punctures like Emmett has, come and talk to me and maybe I'll be more willing to listen to your perspective! Don't get me wrong, Emmett has an amazing life and he loves it, but that doesn't mean that it is not a challenge. This Christmas Emmett's favourite present was a tea set because, even though he has never eaten food, he does love playing with food. His kitchen, however, was missing a tea set so until now he hasn't been able to properly serve tea or hot chocolate. This gift has rectified that untenable situation. Presents also include a mini Winnie the Pooh set (his third and by far the tiniest) that he already loves and will be great for car trips. The stuffed Woody the Cowboy, Buzz, Jessie and Bullseye are already in their place on Emmett's bed. And among all of his other presents, which were plentiful, my favourite was a remote controlled excavator. He says he really likes it. All of the adults wanted to have a turn with it. Hopefully it will provide lots of play for Emmett as he learns how to use the complex controller. And strengthens his fingers to push the buttons and switches.
As we close off this Christmas Day blog, we encourage you to look beyond the presents. Look to the presence of family and friends. Embrace that. Remember, maybe even in the voice of Linus during the Charlie Brown Christmas special, that good news that came 2000 years ago:
[Linus drops his security blanket on purpose]
Linus Van Pelt: "for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"
Linus Van Pelt: [Linus picks up his blanket and walks back towards Charlie Brown] That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
Christmas, that's what it is all about.
Public Service Announcement: When you are out and about this Christmas and New Years, remember, if you're sick with a cold then don't go out. Stay home. Sure, you've been worse and want to be the life of the party. But your cold could be the death of the elderly person you see or the medically fragile individual that you cross paths with. So stay home. Keep that gift to yourself. Wash your hands. Use sanitizer. Stay home until you're well and help keep others well too!