With two corkscrew ponytails bouncing wildly at the sides of my six-year-old freckled face, I stormed into the house in a hissy fit. Even as a first grader, I hated lies and this one was a doozy.
“Mom!” I screamed, indignantly. “Do you know what that stupid Larry told me?”
Wiping the wisps of baby fine hair that had become dislodged as a result my furry, she looked into my innocent baby face, and said calmly, “no, tell me.”
Being the granddaughter of silent movie actors from the early 1900’s, I knew how to get my point across with drama. Stomping my foot in a petulant fashion, I cemented my pudgy hands onto my waist framing the perfect defiant pose, and angrily sputtered, “he said there was no Santa!”
Tilting her head to the right, fine thins lines etched their way between her perfectly plucked eyebrows. As she gently pulled me onto her lap, my mother prepared to save my childhood fantasy from shattering.
“What do you think?” Now snuggling me close to her chest.
“I think Larry’s stupid,” I roared, letting the tears come at last. “He has to be real – right? How else do all those presents get under the tree?”
As the liquid droplets turned in sobs, she attempted to calm me down with her warm, velvety embrace. Rocking me back and forth, just as in the days gone by when sleep was lost in the middle of the night due to a bad dream, she whispered, “well, let me tell you a little secret about Santa. He will always be real for those who believe, so don’t ever stop.”
When I was young, it was easy to trust in Father Christmas. There was a tangible reward attached to the idea. All I had to do was say, “I know there’s a Santa,” and poof! A pile of presents with my name on them appeared under the tree.
But as the years passed and life became all too real, the idea of having faith in anything became a challenge, especially when it felt like my entire world was caving in around me.
A few years back, my eldest daughter, Michelle, and I were having a conversation about the mini cyclone I seemed to constantly be spinning in. Maybe the swirling motion of air mass and agitated winds weren’t as destructive as a full-blown weather system, but it caused severe damage to my vision for the future just the same.
Having one of my occasional pity parties, I lamented over how hard life had become: I was alone. I was sick and tired of being a caregiver. I was also broke. Yet somehow children have a wonderful way of assaulting a parent out of any “woe is me” situation with verbal pellets from their rapidly firing B B gun.
“Mom, I know things have been hard, but I want you to think about something,” she began gently, her sage wisdom glowing like a brilliant halo shining off her soft, canary-colored hair. “When you look over your entire life, when have you truly NOT been OK?”
“Many times! Life can suck. This is too hard and I want an E ticket out of here,” I wanted to blurt out, but thought better of it. Michelle always had a way of imparting valuable information. I needed to pay attention.
“Look at all your blessings. You’re still here and healthy. Somehow you pay your bills. You’re loved by many and you do have a fabulous future ahead if you stop whining,” she continued, ignoring the quizzical look on my face.
Then, as I looked into her sapphire blue eyes, those pools of delightfully warm, calm water that bathed my heart the moment she was born, I began to see her point; no matter how difficult things were or became, somehow I was shown the way by a divine power. All I had to do was pay attention to the lesson and believe in the process.
When we’re young, believing in all that is good and wonderful is natural. Our hearts are open, free and soar with fantasy. Because of our innocence, we see the worthiness in everything and trust that anything can happen. Unfortunately, as we grow into adults, we lose that vibrant spirit. But maybe it’s not too late to be reborn!
Perhaps if we open our eyes (and take time to listen to our children), we adults can capture the ability to see past our occasionally distorted egos to what is magical and magnificent right in front of our eyes. It’s all right there, we just need to pay attention and believe in all the possibilities.
I think I might just put out a plate of cookies for Jolly Old St. Nick and see what happens!
May the magic of Christmas bring you joy and a stocking full of memories to last a life time.