Christmas is my favorite holiday.
Not just because I get to unpack the collection of Santas my mom has sent me one year at a time since college. Or because I take great joy in arranging all of my angels on the fireplace hearth. I do love the day we bring up all the Christmas tree ornaments and drink eggnog and reminisce about how old I was when I made the Q-tip God’s eyes we still have or what my kids remember about making this ornament or that. And if it were up to me, Christmas music would play in my house from the start of November all the way through December.
These are all things I love about the holidays. But Christmas for me is really about the magic. It’s a time of year that brings people together at their best. It’s a time during which my house feels a little cozier and the smells of gingerbread and pine and turkey in the oven are more potent.
Then there’s the magic of Santa. I always have taken great delight in playing his role — jotting down my kids’ special requests, finding the perfect gifts and leaving a note from S.C. praising their good behavior throughout the year. I love, too, the traditions around stockings passed from one generation to another — always a toothbrush and dental floss and sugarless gum.
This year, my youngest daughter said she had a secret for me. We were at a children’s Christmas party so she clasped her hands around her mouth and whispered in my ear, “I know Santa isn’t real.” My heart sunk a little because Santa has been part of our holiday for the past 16 years. One by one, as my kids figured out who really puts the presents under the tree, we had an understanding — that they now were part of the mystery and could help promote the magic for their siblings.
I admit that I’ve been mourning the past couple days that fact that none of my kids believe in Santa anymore. But I also realize that this provides a great opportunity. We’re a fortunate family because we’re together and love each other, we’re healthy, and we have a roof over our heads and warm beds to crawl into at night. The truth is we don’t need a thing. And we have time and talents to help others — not just during Christmas, but all year long. Now we truly can put our emphasis on what we give to others rather than what we buy or get ourselves. All three of my children and I can work together to become part of what Christmas is all about — spreading cheer, helping others, and perhaps even creating a little magic.
Julie Stafford is a native of Greenville and a freelance writer living outside Boulder, Colo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (616) 754-9303 ext. 3116.