Holiday Memories and Lessons

The holiday season often brings back memories of times past. Sometimes, it’s the events of today that just remind of us of times past. A couple of events in particular caught my attention, and brought back some memories.

Event #1

I was jolted into reality during a recent discussion with my 7-year old regarding Santa. She had been telling me lately that her Christmas list was “between her and Santa”.  Precious comments for a Dad to hear from his little girl, but also reflective of my assumption that she still fully believed in Santa.

This assumption was challenged when I told her that all of us can go visit Santa at the local mall and talk about the list. She told me “Daddy, you and I BOTH know that it will be just be a guy dressed as Santa. He can’t be everywhere!


Then, she dropped the bombshell. Paraphrasing here: “I’m not sure about Santa anymore because one of the things I have actually talked about, I saw last week in the garage.”

She was staring me in the face when saying that, looking me in the eye. The moment of truth arrived – could I keep the Santa story alive for another day?

I thought about saying that the gift was for someone else’s birthday, but then thought better of it as didn’t want to lie. Yes, I know that Santa is technically a lie, but let’s ignore that for the moment:)

I paused, then said, “Santa is awesome! I’ve always enjoyed Santa. Do you want to leave him milk and cookies again this year?”

She paused and said, “Yeah, ok”.

Don’t know if the cat’s totally out of the bag here, but I wasn’t ready to close the book on Santa just yet.  I wasn’t ready for that to happen this year:)  The memory that this brought back was of me, at 6 years old – just one year younger than where she is now. I made the same observation about Santa couldn’t be at so many places at the same time, and how I saw my dad with gifts I hoped to get.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I suppose:)

Event #2

A recent post at First Gen American, called Christmas without Presents, reminded me of a great teaching moment from my own childhood.

I was about 7 or 8 years old, and my family spent one Christmas visiting some very close friends in Michigan. So, we drove from suburban Chicago, making the 5 hours journey to these people’s home.

Anyway, on Christmas morning, we opened the presents as usual, and I probably got like 6 or 7 gifts in total. This included wrapped gifts under the tree and smaller things in the stocking. None of these gifts were expensive, but I was always very lucky to get gifts. Santa must have thought I was a good boy, and I actually was good, in retrospect:)

That day, I recall my Mom sitting down next to me telling me that our friends were going to invite a nice lady and a little girl over to their house. She explained that they live on their own, and don’t have much money. Also, she said she doesn’t have a Dad. I don’t know if that meant that he died, or that there was a divorce and he lived elsewhere. All I knew was that my Mom was telling me that this girl had a more difficult life than me.

Then, she really got my attention: she said that since these people didn’t have much, the girl didn’t get any Christmas gifts. Therefore, she was going to give her one of my gifts!

Needless to say, as a little kid, I didn’t react with glee to the notion that one of the gifts I had just opened, and looked forward to hopefully getting, would just be taken away from me on Christmas Day. It was as if Lucy had pulled the football out from under Charlie Brown, as he tried to kick it. (Note: If you don’t get that analogy, good for you – because you must not be as old as me!)

I protested; I complained, and even cried. I couldn’t believe it. Why should some girl that we don’t even know get one of my gifts?!

I was outraged and exasperated.

Now, as an adult, I totally get it. I’m impressed at how fair, decent, and compassionate my Mom was. She did the right the thing.

It’s a memory that has lasted, since I was so upset as a child, but now totally get it and embrace it.  This is the holiday spirit, thinking of others. I’m glad my mother showed kindness to that little girl, and allowed me to learn a lesson in the process.

What about you? Is there anything about the holiday season this year that reminds you about the days of yesteryear?


  1. says

    Heh heh, I hope your little girl hangs on with Santa a little while longer. It’s all part of the magic.

    I stretched it out a couple of years by getting the boys to believe that Santa could move across space time and pop in and out of our dimension at will, therefore being able to be in many places at once. Oh yeah, but what about the toys with the tag “Made in China”? Santa Claus lives at the North Pole. Well, that’s because Santa subcontracts a lot of his toy manufacturing to China. The elves only make a small part of the toys, and only for the neediest children. There’s only so many elves, and there’s a whole lot more kids in the world these days.

    I don’t think it counts as lying, does it?

    • Squirrelers says

      101 Centavos – Good tips on stretching the story out for a few more years. After further discussions here, I think she’s on the fence about it being real or made up. I suspect that inevitably, this might be the last year. I hope to enjoy this as much as possible!

  2. says

    I’m glad my post invoked such a strong memory. I distinctly remember thinking my parents were idiots and unfair and crazy when I was growing up. It’s nice that I now can appreciate the reasons behind some of the things that happened. (Or maybe I’m just slowly turning into my mother).

    To this day the smell of wood burning reminds me of the holidays because my uncle always had the wood burning stove roaring during our visits. I also remembered playing parcheesee and chinese checkers with my cousins.

    • Squirrelers says

      First Gen – It’s funny how our perspectives on parental behavior changes as we get older. Makes we wonder why many of us that have kids now, don’t listen more to grandparents these days. Also – I recall playing chinese checkers as well….forgot about that game, it’s been decades since I even thought about it:)

  3. says

    For the past two years I was not looking forward to Xmas. My family, I guess, gets so intense around the Holidays that we just don’t handle each other very well. :-) We’ll see how this year will go.

    • Squirrelers says

      Aloysa – the holidays can be challenging in many cases, I totally get it. This year, I have to say that I’m looking forward to peace and tranquility.

  4. says

    Ahhhh, I dont know who wouldnt get the lucy-charlie brown reference! I love the peanuts holiday specials! It sounds like you learned a great lesson as a kid – I learned many as well, but unfortunately didnt appreciate them until much, much later.

    • Squirrelers says

      Jeff – thanks for making me feel not as old regarding the Lucy/Charlie Brown reference:) Also, I too like the Peanuts holiday specials. They’re classics.

  5. says

    My little girl (who just turned 7) said 2 things that floored me!
    1st) She said that for her primary gift, she just wants to do up and see Santa’s workshop!
    2nd) She’s making a gift for Santa…

    After writing it, it doesn’t sound that impressive, but seeing her present these ideas were awesome!

    The Peanuts was one of my favorite comic strips! :)

    • Squirrelers says

      Money Reasons – I can appreciate your excitement over your daughter’s ideas, being a parent myself! Good stuff.

  6. says

    This may sound crazy, but sometimes I ‘smell’ our Christmas Tree (artificial) from my childhood. I have no idea what evokes it, and it happens in the oddest places.

    Certain Christmas songs smack me right in the head. We used to go to my Grandma’s every Christmas Eve, and she always had a certain radio station on. The DJs did ‘Santa reports’ and would talk about where they thought he was at. I was always so excited! Of course, I didn’t believe real long as my brothers ruined that for me quite young.

    How can you NOT know about the Lucy, Charlie Brown, and the football??

    • Squirrelers says

      Everyday Tips – it doesn’t sound crazy, I know what you mean. For me, the sense of smell and memories go back to my mother’s cookies that she always made every year. Wow those were good, when she was really on her game.

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