“Chloe, want to play Santa Claus?” I asked the other day as I was getting ready to shave.
“Yes!” Chloe responded as she ran to get her stool so she would have something to stand upon.
“Alright, I’ll meet you in there,” I said as I headed into the bathroom, took out my shaving stuff and started to run the hot water.
“Never mind, Dad,” she yelled at me as she waltzed past the bathroom a few minutes later and headed for the back door. “Josh and I are going to play in the backyard! See you later.”
The Santa Claus game started a couple of years ago when Chloe followed me into the bathroom one day and she watched me put shaving cream on my face. “You look like Santa Claus,” she said to me and as I looked at myself in the mirror, I had to agree with her. The shaving cream looked like the white, billowy beard of Father Christmas and before I knew what I was doing, I broke into my best impression of Saint Nick and had a conversation with Chloe as if I was the jolly old elf himself.
When I had finished shaving and the beard of white was gone, I miraculously transformed back into myself and played dumb about having just been Kris Kringle. I pretended as though I had no idea what had just happened and I asked Chloe how my five-o’clock shadow had disappeared. She told me that Santa Claus had visited her and they talked about a few things, but she wasn’t at liberty to discuss the details with me because it was a secret. And from that day on, our little game was born.
Much like the segment “Five Good Minutes” on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption,” our game of Santa Claus became five good minutes in the course of my week where I was able to catch up with my daughter’s life and learn about the world through her two-year old eyes. We laughed, we sang, we joked around with each other but most of all, my daughter opened up and had an honest five minute conversation with Father Christmas. She even reported to Saint Nick about the behavior of her parents from time to time. And as you can imagine she told Santa that, “mom was good and dad deserved coal!”
Chloe is four now and she is aware that our Santa Claus game is exactly that, just a game. She is aware that Father Christmas doesn’t take over my mind and come to visit her when I shave (although I still do use the Kris Kringle voice). But every once in a while, she still hangs out with her dad for five minutes just to tell me about what is happening in her little corner of the world and I am glad she does.
My daughter is growing up. The world is getting to be a bigger place and my baby girl is spreading her wings and navigating the globe with a newfound sense of independence. She is involved in more activities and spending more time exploring the world around her with all of her new friends. Add to the equation the demands on my time between work and home and I realize how quickly time passes in our lives. Yesterday, she was two and tomorrow she’ll be ten. And as much as I would like to hold onto those moments in my children’s lives when they were innocent and didn’t have a care in the world, I can’t. So when my daughter carves out five good minutes in her week to spend time playing Santa Claus with me, I am happy to indulge her in a little one-on-one time just catching up on the events of our lives.