The Boy’s homework project for this month is to write a short chapter book all about his family holiday traditions. It can be any holiday, but given The Dad’s and my own respective Roman Catholic/Episcopal upbringing, we are lapsed Christians who observe the secular Christmas.
One of our holiday traditions happened last week: the Santa breakfast at Morton Arboretum
with Grandma & Grandpa Naperville. We have been doing some version of this since The Boy was two. First at Marshall Fields with his cousins and, once they aged out of the breakfast and toward symphony dress-up events, at the Morton Aboreteum. As The Girl and The Tot tot were born, they came too.
And they put on a nice event for the breakfast at the Arb: they close the Gingko Cafe and have Mrs. Claus visit tables of kids and grandparents–some dressed to the 9s, some wering jeans and Santa sweaters–while they eat pancakes and quiche delivered by waitstaff. The highlight of the breakfast, of course, is the jolly old man himself, who arrives by walking down one of the Arb’s many walking paths, dressed in attire reminiscent of Father Nature or St. Nicholas than the typical red-suited cad. He carries a giant walking stick/staff and wears a crown of leaves and branches. By the time he is seated in his oversized chair, a line has stretched the full length of the room and pancakes, sausages, and orange juice lie abandoned everywhere. It has been like this every year we’ve gone and 2009 was no exception.
The Boy and The Girl were quick to jump into line, but the tot had one destination on his mind: the train set up in the plant clinic across the way. He was not interested in the suited, bearded man that his memory is too short to remember from last year. And after The Boy’s two- and three-year-old reactions to Santa, I’m perfectly OK with that. Truth be told, I have a hard time actively promoting the Santa myth.
So The Tot happily went to the trains with Grandpa while Grandma and I waited with The Boy and The Girl for the photo-and-tell-me-all-your-wishes opportunity. The treat bag at the end (Smencil, giant iced cookie, candy canes, mini coloring book and Christmas temporary tattoos) helped too.
We got our free tickets to the train area and headed over to join The Tot and Grandpa. The theme this year was Hansel & Gretel, with lots of Necco Wafer-adorned roofs on the gingerbread houses lining the track. The Tot was beyond excited, but we had to exit after his excitement turned a bit possessive: he was pushing newcomers to the side, touching babies carelessly left in bucket seats, etc. He did not want to leave and took off his jacket three times before I gave up and took him out anyway.