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.
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:)
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?