All this talk about Santa has me fired up! Is he real? Is he white? Does it matter? Is it wrong to lie to children?........................Hold up! Wait one minute….
I have loved Santa for as long as I can remember. Late night rides in the car to wealthier neighborhoods to see them all decked out in lights…..sitting on his lap and critiquing his attire….. “his beard was not real Mom, he must be a helper.” Sending letters to the North Pole, visiting small town chatz like Smithville or Storybook land to see glassed off houses with moving puppets doing Christmas chores! I LOVE IT ALL!
I had Christmas heartbreak early in life when our house was robbed and although there was still quite a showing under the tree that year, my most longed for item was missing! How could Santa make a mistake!! “They took it in the robbery!!” my Mom shared, and with that…….the cat was out of the bag! My heart sunk for a bit….but then I marveled at the lengths my single Mother would go to add joy to her precocious daughter’s life. My older siblings were more indifferent but even they couldn't help but enjoy my Santa infatuation! We may not have much under the tree but we have SPIRIT!! My love for Santa grew.
As an adult, we fill our home with brown Santas. Yep! Ones that look more like the people that are actually buying the gifts in our house. Early on we made them because they weren't available in stores, now…they are readily available. While the Santas in my home are brown, I don’t discriminate!! I love all Santas……especially ones that have a twinkle in their eye! I've never felt that it was a big commercial ploy or racial inequity or religious slight to love Santa…..it was and is……just fun!
So when people ask if Santa is real…or why do you love him soo much….I tell them this story:
20 years ago in the ICU ward of The National Institute of Health I sat with my son on Christmas Eve. We had been in the hospital already for 4 months. He had had a very invasive surgery and he was hurting bad. His little face was mean and each tear he cried I cried a thousand more. I set up a pitiful drugstore tree on his hospital bed table. This was gonna be a Christmas heartbreak because we lived in a different state than the hospital he was in. This illness was wreaking havoc on not only his body, but our budget and work life. Daddy wasn’t gonna be able to make the 3 hour trek until Christmas morning and I was not able to leave the hospital so…..no gifts under the tree when he woke up. Such a small thing to worry about while dealing with a life threatening illness, but it saddened me nonetheless.
I popped out of the ICU to visit the family room and chat with a Dad who was worrying over his wife who was gravely ill. He was a wealthy business man with two small beautiful children. We laughed, we cried, and we prayed for a good holiday and healthier times.
Christmas morning came and low and behold there were a few gifts under that raggedy tree on the table. A note read, “these are from Santa….Daddy is bringing more” WOW WOW WOW!
We struggled through our walk around the ICU later that morning. When we got to the gentleman’s wife’s bed…it was empty. A nurse pulled me aside….she didn’t make it. Her husband, in the hardest time of his life, grabbed some presents while shopping earlier for his own children…. for our son. A stranger. Even in his own saddness, he gave a bit of joy.
That is the Santa I love. The idea that a joy can be shared at a time when a small bit of joy can change your day, change your life! A note in a card from a friend you haven’t heard from in a while…..folks pulling tags from a giving tree and really shopping for that stranger……it’s about giving. I know that you don’t need Santa for that…….and I know and celebrate the real meaning of Christmas as the birth of baby Jesus.
But a little of Santa’s sparkle is so needed in this time that we are in….now more than ever! That kindness showered on my family changed me. I have tried in every way to pay it forward. Is Santa real? We don’t even ask that question around here! He’s in our heart! And that is real talk!