Christmas is over, and I just have to say… Christmas is the best. I mean, really.
I love Christmas year-round, but because of my pregnancy-induced short-term memory loss, I always forget why. But as December approaches my memory is jogged by the Salvation Army greeting me at each door, my mail arriving full of letters, ACTUAL, hand-addressed, letters, children singing at the annual Christmas pageants, all the Christmas lights winking at me as I drive, and just people in general being more joyful, giving, helpful, dare I say Christ-like — like the whole “you better watch out” thing had some sort of Pavlovian effect on us all.
I’ve always considered Christmas to be what dreams are made of. Growing up (well… up until last year…), I spent Christmas at my grandparents’ with all my (seemingly) hundreds of aunts, uncles, and cousins crammed into a three bedroom, two bathroom ranch-style home. We would play hide-and-go-seek with our “other cousins” — the family across the street — until everyone was too old and out of shape. Our last year there, we had multiplied to 37ish people. Sounds awful, but it was Christmas paradise. A part of me melted last year when, due to my grandparents passings, we spent our first Christmas with just my immediate family. My husband thinks I’m crazy for being so sentimental, probably because I’m usually not. I don’t feel nostalgic about much. But don’t mess with my Christmas.
I have memories of staying up, no lie, ALL NIGHT LONG. I wasn’t trying to sneak a peek at Santa or catch him in the act. I was much too wussy to do that. I would just lay there watching the minute hand creep around the clock. The impending excitement of Christmas morning kept my brain from settling into any sort of REM cycle. Being the second-youngest cousin, I was always relegated to the recliner. This meant that as soon as I would fall into a shallow snooze, my body would relax, allowing the recliner to pop back up into the original position with a WHAM! Maybe that’s why I never slept.
I believed in Santa for a long time. Like, until 4th grade… Okay, 5th grade. But, in my defense, “Santa” really pulled a fast one on me. When I was in 4th grade, and REALLY cool, I wrote the following letter to Santa and proceeded to “throw it into the wind” … because Santa is magic, and if he exists, he will obviously get it without the help of the USPS.
A couple of weeks later, I received a reply in the mail from the North Pole in a green and red striped envelope. Santa wrote me back. And Rudolph left his hoof print at the bottom of the letter.
Mind. Blown. He does exist.
Imagine the elation of a 10-year-old preparing to prove all her classmates dead wrong. Imagine that 10-year-old taking that letter to school the next day and passing it around from student to student, standing at the front of the class and retelling the riveting story of how “Rudolph even stamped his hoof print at the bottom of the page! Just like I asked! He must be real!” I wonder what all those kids were thinking. You KNOW there were children staring through slitted eyes whose parents had dropped the big Claus-bomb about three years prior.
Several years later, I met the man who sent me that letter in the mail. Apparently, someone found it in the street that day and put it in the mailbox. The man who wrote the return letter was a friend of my parents. He worked at the post office and did it as a personal favor to them. My mom later told me that when I showed it to her, screaming with delight, she feigned excitement as she reeled over the fact that I was going to believe in Santa FOR.EV.ER. She told me the next year. It’s okay. It was time.
Armed with my newfound wisdom, that next Christmas felt like my first steps into adulthood, like that was my bat mitzvah… in Christian form… but somewhat sacrilegious. A symbol of coming into my womanhood, leaving Santa, and my childhood self, with the ghosts of Christmas past.
So now, I’m perpetuating the lie through my own offspring. But I don’t think of it as much of a lie, as I do the joy, excitement, and suspense that I craved as a child. I liked Christmas a lot more when I was being dooped. Well, until I became a mom. I’ve taken on the role of “Dooper” with a spirited Christmas swagger. Yes, we’re a Santa family. Sorry I’m not sorry.
Merry Christmas everyone! Hope yours was full of all the good things.