Damara Hutchins

The most wonderful lie of the year

"Mommy, does Santa come here to Florida or does he only visit places that have snow?" It was an innocent question asked by my 7-year old daughter two weeks ago and it reminded me that Christmas was approaching at warp speed and I was totally unprepared once again.

I voiced a non-committal answer that would not entangle me in the "Santa trap" more than I wanted to be at that moment. I'm not a huge fan of the man, but somehow I have found myself signing "Santa" to the stickers on wrapped gifts every Christmas Eve since my son was a baby.

My son has, of course, figured things out, but my daughter is full of imagination and is absolutely as gullible as I was at her age.

She apparently has yet to ask herself questions like "Why does Santa prefer wealthy children?" or "Why does Santa use the same wrapping paper as mommy and have the same handwriting?" These are dead giveaways to the true identity of the mysterious, mirthful man.

When I was a kid, I thought it was weird that some guy broke into our house and left gifts. The gifts were great, but the fact that a stranger was in our house while we slept totally creeped me out. I once made a burglar alarm out of a string tied to my toys that would fall and wake me in case an intruder opened either my window or my door. I was slightly paranoid for someone so young.

Back in the present, I knew if "Santa" was going to come to our house, I had to get over my seasonal funk and put up a tree. Everyone knows that you can't celebrate the holiday without a tree.

Luckily, my husband was feeling merry enough to head out to the tree place and grab a decent-looking evergreen. Now our house has the proper smell even though the cat is hell-bent on destroying the bottom three feet of ornamentation.

With less than a week until the big day, my daughter came down with a case of the sniffles. I didn't think much of it until her ear started hurting too. This warranted a trip to the pediatrician's office.

The diagnosis was an ear infection, but my daughter was convinced she has allergy to "Christmas wind." Apparently, this is the breeze that occurred when the temperature dropped to the 50s which is like freezing to us in the Sunshine State.

"Christmas wind" is full of particles that cause sneezing and an occasional cough, but I believe that it has further depressed my general mood as well because I have been an emotional mess lately.

I don't blame my grouchiness on the fact that my washer and dryer are still on the fritz, but that does affect my life, especially on my coveted days off. On a related note, I am beginning to truly dislike the smell of laundromats.

I actually called off Christmas dinner at my house. I usually cook turkey and do a big spread, but not this year. I literally cancelled Christmas. I just don't feel like dealing with it.

I do feel like running away to Bora Bora. I don't have the vacation time or the cash flow to support this type of major tactical maneuver, but a girl can dream.

Santa, if you're listening, Mommy needs some sanity left under the tree this year. I promise I'll try to be good next year. Okay, I'll try to be not so bad. Deal?