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It seems that at Christmas time almost all casual conversations with a perfect stranger begin with “so, are you ready for Christmas?” In true holiday spirit, the dental assistant, trying to make me comfortable while I waited for the endodontist, casually asked “so are you ready for Christmas?” Not knowing how she would define ready (I can already hear “you make things so difficult”), how am I supposed to answer this question?

I don’t know if I am ready for Christmas.

I have not bought any presents.

I have not decorated.

There is no snow on the ground…I know, there won’t be any snow on the ground seeing as I reside in a snowfall deprived part of the country.

I can only find one radio station playing Christmas songs.

My poor live tree is still sitting on my patio waiting for fresh dirt, and a prettier pot, and to come inside. Maybe then its branches would fall a bit. I would be happy if they would just loosen up and fall even ever so slightly.

The point is what is ready?

I thought I had it figured out. Christmas would be about family, sharing, activities and not and overabundance of gifts. Then, on the way home after picking up The Boy and after our conversation on Santa, I am all of a sudden backpeddling into feeling like I should be out shopping for Santa’s gifts.

Me: My job is going to participate in the Adopt-a-Family program and I organized it. So we are going to go shopping this weekend for people who are not as fortunate as we are; for people who don’t have that much.

Him: (Mental gears turning) Well, I don’t have that much, right?

Me: (After bursting with laughter) No, you have a lot.

Him: Well, that’s okay because Santa is going to bring me a lot of toys. Right?

Me: I don’t think so. Maybe Santa will just bring you one.

Him: (laughing like I just told a joke) Noooooooo! Santa brings lots of toys. That what he does.

Me: Sometimes he just brings 1 or 2 toys.

Him: (As if I am clueless) Santa’s not mean.

By the end of our conversation, he agreed that “fine…then, I will just ask Santa for one thing.” I had won but, this was not really about winning. My new approach to Christmas is about coming to a deeper understanding of the impact of the time we share with one another on our memories…on our lives. Santa can bring him 20 toys and in 20 years what’s going to be important is how we always had to walk down the steps in a particular order or how Chanda would never wake up and mom and dad would always buy themselves more time because we could not go downstairs until everyone was ready to go down in a particular order (youngest to oldest) and Chanda would never wake up.

Okay, so those are my memories but, the point remains the same. The only present I remember from a child is my blender (a real one that ended up in the kitchen for everyone’s use) and an Easy Bake Oven. The rest is just who was there and chasing sleep out of Chanda. I want mine to have those kinds of memories but, The Boy wants to believe in Santa. And I don’t want to pee in his cereal (rain on his parade). Maybe he needs to believe in Santa and maybe I need to let him. If I let him, as I have so far, then Santa needs to live up to his expectations, at least partly.

So, dental assistant making casual conversation for the first of many times today, I don’t know if I am ready for Christmas because I haven’t really decided what that means. Ask me next week; we have another appointment.