On God and Santa

santa list

When I was a little girl I thought Santa Claus and God were a lot alike. First there was that “making a list and checking it twice” song to let us know that Santa was watching “to see who’s naughty or nice.” Then Sister Anne told us God has a big book up in heaven and when we die we’re going to have to stand in front of everybody in all creation while our sins are read out loud for everyone to hear. I had to think that with a book like that someone was checking it at least a couple of times.

Santa seemed be easier to please than God. He judged you on an annual basis and on Christmas morning you knew how you’d done that year. If you were real good you got everything you asked for. If you were real bad, you got nothing. I always landed somewhere in the middle. I never got everything I asked for, but I never got nothing either. I usually ended up with one or two things from my list and some other things that were nothing to write home about. Then there were the socks and underwear that came as a warning to do better in the New Year. I figured he must have checked that list and seen me trying to peek at some answers on a math test or watched me picking on my little brother. He also seemed to know I always tried to do better and found it in his heart to give me a bit of credit for that. I figured that’s how I got my first pair of roller skates.

face of God

God is tougher. He expects you to be good all the time and if you can’t quite pull it off, he wants you to tell on yourself. That’s what they call ‘going to confession’ in my church. Then you have do penance and pray for your immortal soul. There are no presents to let you know how you’re doing. Confession was always a problem. What if I forgot something? What if He looked away when I was good and didn’t see how hard I tried? Even a pair of socks would have been some indication of how things were going. I thought God should have a chat with Santa.

During Christmas things got all mixed up and everybody went a little crazy. Jingle Bells and Away in A Manger competed on the stereo. Santa images appeared everywhere. Baby Jesus was getting ready for his birthday and his straw bed was right up there at the front of the church and at home we placed it under the Christmas tree with the sheep and the cows, the chipped wise men and one shepherd with a broken staff. Mary prayed and Joseph stood guard over all of them.

In the midst of all this I heard about some kid seeing his mommy kissing Santa Claus. Imagine something like that happening when everyone is expected to be on their best behavior. It was enough to drive a kid to distraction.

Right after that, we had to practice for the Christmas pageant and get into a solemn state worthy of Our Lord. I tried. However, even with the best intentions I never managed to behave well enough to be considered for the part of Mary. I did manage to be a pretty good sheep once and from that success I moved up to play a well disguised wise man the following year.

As I look back on those innocent years, I realize that as adults we feel the same pressure to be good, to answer to more than one standard at the same time. We grow distracted and fail to see Him in the stars, the morning sun, or the loving eyes of our spouse. We no longer notice the prayer in a child’s laugh or a loved one’s crooked smile. It’s because of times like these that God reminds us to think of others.

It is through Him that we opened our hearts long ago and created a joyful old elf to carry His message. That is why God and Santa look alike to an innocent little girl trying her best to prepare for when the time comes to check that list. Faith comes in many forms but always at the heart of it is a message to try to do your best, to appreciate the gifts that life offers and share our love with family and our community.

Now when people complain about how commercial the season has become, how gifts and parties have taken over, I smile and look into the face of Santa, and I see Him there, smiling back at me with all the love a father holds for a child trying hard to be good.

Merry Christmas Caregivers!

Caregiver Cover WebClick here for Exclusive 20% Discount for Blog Followers
 
Also available on AmazonPublished by Open Books Press – Retail cost: $15.95 Print $2.99 e-book

 

Advertisements

On God And Santa

Christmas Manger

When I was a little girl I thought Santa Claus and God were a lot alike. First there was that “making a list and checking it twice” song to let us know that Santa was watching “to see who’s naughty or nice.” Then Sister Anne told us God has a big book up in heaven and when we die we’re going to have to stand in front of everybody in all creation while our sins are read out loud for everyone to hear. I had to think that with a book like that someone was checking it at least a couple of times.

I figured Santa might be more forgiving than God. He judged you on an annual basis and on Christmas morning you knew how you’d done that year. If you were real good you got everything you asked for. If you were real bad, you got nothing. I always landed somewhere in the middle. I never got everything I asked for, but I never got nothing either. I usually ended up with one or two things from my list and some other things that were nothing to write home about. Then there were the socks and underwear that came as a warning to do better in the New Year. I figured he must have checked that list and seen me trying to peek at some answers on a math test or watched me picking on my little brother. He also seemed to know I always tried to do better and found it in his heart to give me a bit of credit for that. I figured that’s how I got my first Barbie.

God is tougher. He expects you to be good all the time and if you can’t quite pull it off, he wants you to tell on yourself. That’s what they call ‘going to confession’ in my church. Then you have do penance and pray for your immortal soul. There are no presents to let you know how you’re doing. Confession was always a problem. What if I forgot something? What if He looked away when I was good and didn’t see how hard I tried? Even a pair of socks would have been some indication of how things were going. I thought God should have a chat with Santa.

During Christmas things got all mixed up and everybody went a little crazy. Jingle Bells and Away in A Manger competed on the stereo. Santa images appeared everywhere. Baby Jesus was getting ready for his birthday and his straw bed was right up there at the front of the church and at home we placed it under the Christmas tree with the sheep and the cows, the chipped wise men and one shepherd with a broken staff. Mary prayed and Joseph stood guard over all of them.

In the midst of all this I heard about some kid seeing his mommy kissing Santa Claus. Imagine something like that happening when everyone is expected to be on their best behavior. It was enough to drive a kid to distraction.

Right after that, we had to practice for the Christmas pageant and get into a solemn state worthy of Our Lord. I tried. However, even with the best intentions I never managed to behave well enough to be considered for the part of Mary. I did manage to be a pretty good sheep once and from that success I moved up to play a well disguised wise man the following year.

As I look back on those innocent years, I realize that as adults we feel the same pressure to be good, to answer to more than one standard at the same time. We grow distracted and fail to see Him in the stars, the morning sun, or the loving eyes of our spouse. We no longer notice the prayer in a child’s laugh. It’s because of times like these that God reminds us to think of others.

It is through Him that we opened our hearts long ago and created a joyful old elf to carry His message. That is why God and Santa look alike to an innocent little girl trying her best to prepare for when the time comes to check that list. Faith comes in many forms but always at the heart of it is a message to try to do your best, to appreciate the gifts that life offers and share our love with family and our community.

Now when people complain about how commercial the season has become, how gifts and parties have taken over, I smile and look into the face of Santa, and I see Him there, smiling back at me with all the love a father holds for a child trying hard to be good.

Merry Chrsitmasfrom the Imperfect Caregiver! I’ll be posting more on caregiving in the New Year.

Note: This story is included in my book of short stories titled, Pencil Dances.

Visions of Sugarplums Danced in Her Head – A Caregiver’s Dream

santa sleeping
One of the most common bits of advice for caregivers is to get a good night’s sleep.

“Goodnight.”

What wonderful images that simple word brings to mind. I close my eyes and see myself drifting off to sleep in the biggest most comfortable bed on the market. I’m covered with a whisper soft blanket. I’m hugging my pillow. A tiny smile hints at sweet dreams to come. When morning arrives I will awake refreshed ready to face another day caring for my loved one.

That is what I was supposed to do, right? That’s what all the experts said. Trust me, it’s what I would l have loved to do.

Enter reality:

“Goodnight, Rodger.” “Goodnight.”

It was eight o’clock in the evening and he had just had his last breathing treatment of the day. Only one round of medication was left to be taken. I had two hours to spend some time with my husband. We were exhausted and only half listening to each other. I kept one ear open in case Rodger needed me. Nodding at my husband to indicate I was paying attention, I was fighting to keep my eyes open.

At 10:00PM I got up and took Rodger his last doses of the night. He took it without complaint. Yea!

“Goodnight, Rodger.” “Goodnight.”

I was too tired to brush my teeth. Tomorrow was another day. I hadn’t had much to eat anyway. Did I take a shower that morning? I couldn’t remember. I’d do that that the next day too. After saying my prayers, I closed my eyes and waited for sleep to come. My thoughts looped and circled around on themselves. What ifs and why didn’t I competed with I should have until I finally lost consciousness.

12:15 AM – His bed alarm went off. He hated the alarm. He hated the bedside commode and he resented me for making him use them. I ran down the hall to discover he had scooted down to the foot of the bed and managed to squeeze through the space between the bedrail and the foot of the bed. He was clinging to the rail, trying to keep from falling.

“Here, let me help you.” I eased him over to the commode and helped him stand to pee. He refused to sit. “I’m not a girl!”

“Why didn’t you call me if you wanted to get up?”

“I didn’t want to bother you. I used my short cut.”

“Short cut?” It took me a few moments to understand he was talking about the gap between the bedrail and the end of the bed.

“You aren’t supposed to get up unless someone is with you. You could fall. That’s why the doctor ordered an alarm for your bed.”

“The doctor sent it?”

“Yes, last month?”

“How does he know if I go to the toilet? It’s none of his business.”

Five minutes later we were both back in bed.

12:45 AM– His bed alarm went off. That time he tried to climb over the rail and was stuck half way. “What are you doing?”

“I have to pee.” I got him up and helped him to the commode. He stood for a couple of minutes. Nothing happened.

“I thought I had to go.” We went back to bed.

2:00 AM – The bed alarm went off. He was stuck half way out of the bed again. We repeated the scene above.

2:10 AM – Alarm went off again. His foot is stuck in the rail.

3:05 AM – Alarm went off again. He had scooted down to the foot of the bed and was trying to get up. “I have to pee.” That time he did.

3:15 AM – Alarm went off again. “I’m thirsty.” I went to the kitchen and mixed some thickener in water and helped him spoon it into his mouth.

4:00 AM – He was calling for me. I rushed to room. His covers were tangled around him and he couldn’t move. I got him into a chair and arranged his bedding. Had him pee while we were up.

5:15 AM – The bed alarm went off again. I knew I was up for the day.

The next day, and the next, and the days after that? Repeat the above actions from the beginning. Sometimes it was the voices that woke him. Some nights he thought it was day and he was ready to start his routine.

Believe me, I followed all the suggestions, I kept him up during the day. It didn’t matter. I put him in adult pull-ups so he didn’t have to use the bedside commode. I’d find them torn to shreds the next time I went to his room. I followed all the advice about soothing music and quiet time before bed. I tried it all again and there we were night after night. Sometimes I made a bed for myself on the floor beside him so he knew he was not alone. Still the alarm went off through the night.

Get a good night’s sleep? I was ready. I even drifted off for a while, and then his bed alarm went off. Again.

Caregivers do need a good night’s sleep and they know your suggestions are well intended and sincere. What they want you to know is that it’s not that simple. Their days and nights are full, minute to minute, crisis to crisis. So if you are wondering what to give a caregiver for Christmas; one suggestion is a gift certificate for a few hours of respite each week so she or he can take a nap. If you do, drop me a note so I can thank you. gift certificate