Sometimes I feel a certain melancholy about the atheism of our family. Once you get the rationalism disease, you can't go back. But there's a certain spiritual poverty that comes with giving up religion. And it's hard to fight the siren-call of consumption at this time of year. The world is whispering from every direction: 'Buy things. If you love them, buy them things...' We're lonely salmon swimming against the tide in a sea of tinsel. No Santa, and no baby Jesus - what's left for the kids of cheerless bobo, neo-hippie bastards?
Somehow, at our place, the hole left by Santa (I just don't dig on his 'make a list, order your presents' shtick) and little baby Jesus (him, no problem, some very good ideas, I think the problem lies with his biographers) has been filled by...
... the Cat in The Hat. I found this fellow waiting for me at the bottom of a garage sale crap-basket. I didn't hide him too well in my slovenly Christmas pile in the corner, and the beady eyes of Ivy found him a week or two ago. I had to admit he was visiting us, but we couldn't play with him yet, and he might appear at Christmas.
He might. He's tricky, that Cat in the Hat.
He's been turning up, mornings, in funny places around the house. Swinging from the blinds. Hiding in pot plants. Sailing through the air on the back of an Indonesian goddess.
We know he's going to appear for real at Christmas and every day, when driving in the car, Ivy says 'Now let's have a conversation about Christmas,' he features.
Creating rituals is an interesting thing. Thoughts, desires, and held ideas on what 'should' happen within the family are processed, discussed, and filtered through the circumstances of your lives, and the personalities of your children, until you end up with your own unique traditions. We've been talking about love, and sharing, and making things for people we care about. I've fought hard against myself to limit the children to a few presents. We've waved at Santa, but not sat on his lap. We've given a gift to the Giving Tree. We've been constructing wonky gingerbread men.
And with mounting excitement, we've been preparing for the Cat In The Hat to arrive.