It's December, and Christmas is - hands down - my favorite holiday. Always has been, and always will be. If not for Christmas, I doubt I could have survived vast stretches of my childhood, or Hell Year for that matter. Hell year referring to the school year in which Brother Bear sustained his head injury, Miss N gave up her appendix (a worthy trade off considering the tumor that decided to claim it as residence), learning she had type one diabetes, and ultimately losing my teaching contract in the face of all that time off.
That Christmas our furrever friend Suki joined our family, now such a permanent and much loved fixture in our lives that none of us remember life without Suki. That Christmas also marked the year that the youngest of my children chose to stop believing in Jolly Ole Saint Nick. My heart broke at the declarative announcement. Religion aside, the greatest gift of the Christmas season is the larger than life sense of hope, of a belief in the miraculous, and the faith that miracles happen to everybody - even you and me.
When my son questioned the existence of the Jolly Old Elf, I shared an experience most adults choose to scoff at - not my Gramama. She was with me, and for years after confided her own adult belief in events that took place when I was only three. My parents moved to Denmark, and Gram had come for the wedding and extended visit. Walking through the shopping mall blossoming with winter decorations, I noticed a smallish man standing under a rather short Christmas tree. Funny looking little guy was dark, dressed in unusual clothing, and winked at me with a shush, then vanished. Call him a Brownie (that's what the Danes said) or an elf, but I saw him - the child still exuberantly alive in me jumps and nods emphatically as I type this. My mom, as all good mother's do, played along with my perceived flight of fancy, but not Gram - every Christmas from then to her 96th and last she quietly acknowledged that special moment we shared. And, it's colored every Christmas since - whether our family could afford gifts, the bare bones, or something in between. Christmas always carries a sense of magic.
Of course Brother Bear thought I was joking or pulling his leg. Our talk led to words and ideas that carry far more power and feeling than most. Words like love, hope, namaste. Sit quietly for a moment, breathe deeply, say a word like one of those and you'll likely sense something, an undercurrent of power. For me, both the words Christmas and Santa - the very ideas, hold the same promise of power, energy and magic. This time, more than any other, the quiet unconditional gifts of life, love, joy and light enter our lives and lift our spirits - so long as we let them. Seven years later that talk continues to hold an undying special place in both my heart and my son's.
Miss N and I had a similar conversation two years ago, though not with the same outcome. Perhaps it was the difficulty of the year we'd only just begun to endure, or her own unique outlook on life. Whatever the reason, her acceptance of my explanation fell flat.
Imagine my surprise the other day when she asked, once again, Mom - do you really believe in Santa? Yes, honey, I really, truly do. I believe in the active, living Spirit of Santa.
I've studied the myth behind the man; the story of the real Santa Clause, and the events that led to our modern day image of a man who delivers toys. Those children then had nothing, not even toys to play with, and the man on which we based the legend gave them everyday objects somehow made magical that created joy, laughter and a sense of hope in their possible futures. No matter what any adult tells me, the spirit of Santa Clause endures. Year after year, Christmas miracles - without any explanation - come to pass. Sometimes in our lives, often in others, but always with a sense of magic, mystery, love, and in a way that fosters a greater sense of hope.
I've thought long about why Miss N asked me this the other day. It's been a rough two years. I'm still navigating my way through the loss of a career for which I carry a great sense of passion, and through my attempts at becoming an entrepreneur and directing that passion toward helping children in another capacity. We've all been forced to exercise faith in a tomorrow that it is sometimes difficult to believe in, and in the months leading up to this Christmas I've had to share difficult news about where things stand for us.
Even so, our hearts are filled with excitement and anticipation. The tree is up and decorated, Christmas tunes fill our home, and we busy time not spent in the mundane but necessary everyday tasks with making gifts for family and friends. There is a pervading sense for each of us that this year the season offers not only peace, but necessary healing. In a way, Santa's already visited our home.
May your holidays be equally filled with Love, Light, and Laughter