I am sad to admit that I have long lost my holiday spirit. I grew up in a moderately religious household and Christmas was a time to celebrate our christian upbringing; but more so a time to celebrate family. As I grew I learned that the proposed date of Christmas was March 21st (the supposed day that the sun was created) but the church decided to usurp the pagan celebration of the solstice and so placed the holiday on December 25th knowing it had no relation to the birth of Christ. Thanks Roman Council, that took the religion out of it for me. I also did a little time working in a toy store (3 years) and that took the love of the holidays out of me faster than air from a over-filled balloon. I have never witnessed the potential of horrible behavior from the average person more than when I sold toys during the holidays. I know that my “bah-humbug” attitude makes it hard on my family and friends but it was our collective societal malformations that did this to me and nothing I can see, not even visits from 3 ghosts, could rebuild a passion for the holidays as they are. I do however, remember the joy I had as a child during the holidays. The longing for gifts that was only a part of a bigger feeling. Enjoying holiday cartoons with my family, making gifts and cards, singing Christmas songs with my mom, cocoa and playing outside are all crystal clear memories even though I personally may be jaded now.
I remember too, the year I discovered that Santa wasn’t real. I had had suspicions for a while but confirmed them with my mom. “There ain’t no Santa Claus” I remember saying half hoping that she would tell me there really was and that I was just over-thinking. But she confessed, and even though I felt that I was so smart for figuring it out, I also felt a little disappointed. I remember her telling me that little kids love the magic of believing Santa is real. I understood and I knew that from then on I was on the “grown-up” side of the scheme and thus needed to play along… for the children.
I still feel that way today; that it’s for the children. Strip away the parts you don’t agree with, or the dogma that confounds you and what you still have is the magic that fuels a child’s experience of the holiday. At our house we have tried to downplay the gift acquisition factor and instead focus on the giving part. Charity over capitalism, I guess, but even beyond that there is still the inexplicable magic.
How could anyone believe that a fat old man could deliver toys to every child in the world in one night? Magic, that’s how. Why not? My kids are astounded by magicians on TV who levitate or pass ketchup bottle through tables, why couldn’t they believe in the magic of Santa? I love that my 7-year-old believes that the Elf on the Shelf reports back to the north pole, of course my 3-year-old is completely convinced but you would expect that. Even though I feel like I am constantly giving soapbox lectures every time one of them boisterously tells me what they want for Christmas but I will not relinquish my goal of getting them to see past the marketing travesty that American Christmas has become. I hope for them to feel the magic of the day, the warmth inside that you get from being so cold, or the light that shines on you when you generously give of yourself. There is a day coming, I know, when they will get a glimpse of man behind the curtain and that inexplicable feeling will be explained and the magic may be lost. I know they will be disappointed but I will urge them to still carry in their hearts the wonderful feeling at this time of year. “Despite the disheartening behavior of some of those around you”, I will tell them, “remember how special you felt when you believed in magic”. I will ask them to share that feeling and maybe even pretend a little that everyone else still believes in it too.
To all of you who have taken the time to read my posts this year keep your heart open to the magic, spiritual or otherwise, that comes with this season. I wish you the happiest of happy holidays.