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Triathlete Blog

Holiday Traditions

By December 13, 2010July 20th, 2015No Comments

I’m still here.

My laptop wasn’t stolen. I didn’t injure my typing fingers. No, my internet wasn’t down. It was just that every time I sat down to follow up my last blog all I heard in my head was …


Actually, I heard a lot of whining and tears. Which can only mean one thing: we’ve decided to keep the kid. Yes, it’s time to turn the channel back to the kid for a moment. There is life outside sport! And about the kid: there was some question about the return policy but it turns out we’ll keep him. Here’s why….

No, don’t get your glasses. He really does keep getting cuter every single day.

The holidays become 100 times busier when you have a child. All of a sudden you have to do things like Breakfast with Santa, waiting in line to take pictures with Santa, Christmas cards, Christmas sweaters, Christmas bibs, Christmas.

Know what?

My whole life just barfed up Christmas. A dramatic green and red mess of bells, candy canes and Baby’s First Christmas ornaments.

All of this explains why my mom was able to talk me into going to the Bass Pro shop on Sunday for a picture with Santa. Of all things you might expect to get at the Bass Pro shop (fly fishing reel, a hootin’ flute, Dickies – if you have to ask, you don’t know and if you don’t know, don’t ask), you don’t expect to get a picture with Santa. But I hear that kids love the Bass Pro shop and that the Santa there is really, really nice.

He’s also really busy on a Sunday afternoon. 90 minute wait. We decided not to wait for that one.

We decided to make another go at it on Monday night. Who goes to Bass Pro on a Monday night at dinner time when it is 10 degrees outside?

Psst….we weren’t the only ones.

Have you been to the Bass Pro shop? I’ve got to admit – I have no interest in hunting but something about the design of the store, the backwoods, rustic décor made me want to don my best camouflage bib overalls and invite Tred Barta into my ice shanty.

There was an entire section of Ice Shantys. I’m not kidding.

(Chris was most baffled by the single-person shanty. Who would sit on the ice by themselves? Someone who is not afraid to drink alone, I said)

We found Santa snug in a section called Winter Wonderland filled with TOYS TOYS TOYS and…a line. There was a line to see Santa. But the rumors were true – it was worth it. He was a nice Santa, well-mannered and kind looking with a clean beard and a smile that reassured me he was thoroughly background checked.

Standing in line, imagine our surprise when we see Swimmy Jimmy from masters and his 4-year old son. He explains to us that they got their picture taken with Santa weeks ago. Which makes me wonder – what brings you back to Bass Pro? I see his son running around to the train table, the car racing track and I realize – this is what you do with your son on a cold winter night. You come to the Bass Pro. You look at man things. You play with cars. You climb into the tents. You look at dead animals on the walls.

And, as Jimmy mentioned, you get free fudge samples.

Santa was gentle with Max and no tears were shed. As a reward, I told Chris to buy me fudge. Hey, you cannot deny that I am 50 percent responsible for that success! I’ve been told, though, that the first picture with Santa goes well. It’s next year that has catastrophic potential, when he’s in between knowing that Santa brings presents and Santa is a large strange man with fluffy stuff hanging on his face.

(only at the Bass Pro Shop would your *free* Santa photo include a stuffed buck in the background)

We spent a good 30 minutes walking around the store. It made me want to campout. Cook out. At the very least shoot something. There was so much to look at as well as fish tanks, a waterfall and free fudge samples – on two separate sides of the store.

Max selects his tent for Ragbrai.

I started to think – when did this happen? When did we make the full transition to parenting? We join the legions of other parents with strollers and small children in tow, walking around a hunting store on a Monday night because it’s free, it’s indoors and it’s entertaining. That is the challenge of parenthood, finding those things. As I watched Jimmy and his son at the store, I sensed this might be a Monday night ritual. Some nights I see them at the pool playing. Some nights they head to Bass Pro.

Next Saturday we’ve been invited to Breakfast with Santa. You’re probably wondering what you have to do to be invited to dine with royalty (it is Santa), turns out you have to have a relative who resides in a nursing home. That’s where Santa makes his rounds before the holidays.

All of this Santa stuff makes me think – shouldn’t we take the first few years at a slower pace? Ease into it? Right now Max has no idea that 1) it is the holidays, 2) you get gifts on the holidays, 3) Santa brings you those gifts. Plus, all of this fuss about Santa when: ***SPOILER ALERT*** there really is no Santa.

In other words, we’ve got time. Is there any need to rush all of this? Yet even though he had no clue it was Christmas, no clue that Santa was a very important more or no clue that kids are right now counting down the minutes until December 25th, I couldn’t help watch Max on Santa’s lap, get a giant smile on my face and start clapping my hands like a seal arfing with excitement.

I was that parent. Proudly.

The other day, my mom showed me an entire stack of gifts she had for Max.

I just got him a few things.

True to her form, a few things looked like a mountain of gifts. An Everest size pile of trinkets, boxes and gift wrap. That’s my mom. She always made Christmas’ magical for us – we would wake up to dozens of gifts piled high in the family room. It’s a tradition she still holds on to through this day. I’m 35 years old and I go to my mom’s house to find a mountain of gifts waiting for me to unwrap.

It’s not about the gifts, though, it’s about the traditions. It’s her thing and to her – and us – it shouts CHRISTMAS! Parenthood throws a lot of challenges at you (bedtime, naptime, tantrums, fits, tears, whining, sleep deprivation, diapers that make you think where do I even start with this) but the biggest are the ones you know are truly the most important – the responsibility of shaping this little person’s life with traditions and memories. That is a lot of responsibility! The family vacations, the holidays. I realize that we need to start thinking ahead to these things, about how we’ll create the opportunities for those memories.

Is it wrong that I’ve already planned out our first family camping trip?

I find myself thinking – what will our holiday tradition be. Will be let Max open one gift on Christmas Eve? Will we pile the gifts there little by little leading up to Christmas or let him think that Santa dumps them down the chimney the night before Christmas. Will I make Christmas raviolis like a good Italian girl and say mangia to the kid even though the ricotta stuffing scares him? All of this stuff doesn’t sound important but it is. It’s what memories and magic are made of. That’s what Christmas is all about.

We’ve got a lot of thinking to do. But we’ve got time. There’s at least 3 good years before he realizes what the heck is going on during Christmas. Hopefully we’ll have our traditions and our act together by then. Until then, we’re showing up this Christmas with Max wearing his Christmas sweater, Christmas bib and we just might hang the Baby’s First Christmas ornaments from him. As long as he can’t tell how ridiculous he looks, we’re going to decorate him ridiculously as advanced payback for all those times when he’s a teenager shouting in angst that we’ll never understand him and to please drop him off down the street from school so no one sees us.

Years from now, Max will look back at his first picture with Santa and say – you took me to a hunting store for my first picture with Santa? Seriously, parents, what was wrong with you? Well, we did. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have memories of us taking you there on a cold winter night to pass the time with the train, the cars, free fudge, and some good laughs in a 4 person ice shanty.