For Emma Jane's third birthday in December of 2005, she received a lot of toys. A lot. So three weeks later when Christmas Eve arrived and we were up late at night building a new play kitchen we realized it would not fit. She had asked Santa for a washer/dryer and a refrigerator and a kitchen. We lived in a one thousand square foot house. There was no possible way that the new toys would fit into our living room or her bedroom.
So I did what any parent would do, I culled the toys by flashlight. I took away big things. There was a huge plastic changing table that went out to the garage and was covered with a tarp. There were other large items, like a baby bassinet and some very large stuffed animals. In total, I got rid of enough stuff that the new big toys would have a place. I took only things that she had lost interest in. I covered them with a tarp and waited to see if she asked about anything.
Christmas morning came and 3 year old Emma Jane came into the living room and saw the kitchen and washer/dryer that Santa had brought and was beside herself with joy. We had a great Christmas.
I waited a solid month. On January 25th I loaded up all the toys in the garage while Emma Jane was in daycare. She had not asked about a single thing that was missing. So I donated it. All of it. Goodwill is a wonderful thing. The very next day, three year old Emma walks into the kitchen and says "Momma, where is my baby changing table?" Oh crap. Um, well, um... "You know the night Santa came and brought all the new toys for Christmas? Well he had to take some of your gently used toys to kids who needed them more than you." She stares at me for a beat, looks at her dad and says "Okay" and leaves the kitchen. Just okay. That was all. Mike looks at me and smiles and said "well that went well."
I was so relieved. That was about the best possible scenario I could have hoped for. We went about our daily life without any mention of the toys that had disappeared. Then one day, I could not find my keys. I was late for work and running around the house desperately looking for my keys. I yelled from the kitchen to Mike across the house to see if he had seen my keys. Little three year old miss puts her hand on her toddler hip and says "maybe Santa came last night and gave your car to someone who needed it more than you."
That entire year whenever anything turned up missing, she was positive Santa had been there. When we couldn't find her life jacket that summer, Santa had given it to someone who needed it more than her. When she could not find one of her tennis shoes, she was sure Santa had been there and given it to someone with only one foot. The next winter I opened up a hall coat closet and discovered it full of Emma's toys. I asked her why all her toys were in the coat closet. She said "that is the stuff I don't want Santa to take this year."
When we went to see the Santa at Utica Square, he asked her what she wanted for Christmas. She said "I want all my stuff back from last year." And one day when picking her up from daycare that December the teacher said she was telling all the kids in her daycare class "hide your best stuff, Santa is coming!"
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