Little Eyes, turn away, so as not to ruin Christmas Day.
Many of you know that I am a frequent user of a website called Cafemom.com. As I was perusing posts this morning, I came across a post entitled "What do you believe?". My first thoughts were that the post would be about religion, especially what do you believe regarding the meaning of Christmas. However, it was about Santa. The lady asking the question went on to tell us that she was raised that "the idea of Santa is real. That there was a man who dressed in red and white and did deliver gifts to kids one night a year. If you look into it, there was a person." She went on to say that she was 25 years old and still believed in the spirit of Santa and the spirit of the Christmas season.
Then, it got my wheels to turning and I began to think of my own memories of Santa.
I remember my years of growing up with the concept of Santa Claus. My daddy would always tell me, "You better get to bed or Santy Claus can't run!!!" That always scared the living daylights out of me, but in a good way. One year, I was being particularly late in going to bed and kept procrastinating for some reason or another. I think I was eight or nine years old and we lived in Jacksonville. Our dear friends, Jane and Lloyd, were over at our house that Christmas eve. I don't know how late it was, but it was important that I get to bed so Santa could come and drop off his load of gifts. After getting "The Look" from both Jane and my mom, I still wouldn't go to bed. The next things I heard struck a kind of fear in my heart that I don't know I've experienced since. I heard heavy, thumping footsteps on the roof with loud jingle bells. My little feet were never more swift. The next morning, Santa had indeed "run" and I was blessed with gifts. I cannot remember what I got that year, but I do remember the lengths either my daddy or Lloyd went to to make it real for me. That Christmas morning, on the hearth next to the fireplace, there was a boot print on the bricks of the hearth. Another little touch to make it all the more magical and real. Looking back, the pattern of that boot print (that I remember and can still see in my mind's eye) very closely matches the pattern of the underside of the steel-toed boots my daddy wore all those years on the railroad. ; ) It's the tiny things that I remember that make me smile with sweet nostalgia.
One year, I think it was in the 5th grade, there was talk that Santa wasn't real. I bought into the idea that maybe it really was Mom and Dad. However, I had a very small little brother at home. (We're almost ten years apart.) I made a vow to myself right then and there that even if I didn't necessarily believe in Santa anymore, that I would never ruin it for my little brother. I'm proud to say that I kept that promise and let him find out for himself. When I was 14, he was four. That year, my mom forgot to put something out for me that was from Santa. She took me into her closet, where the forgotten gift was stashed, and told me The Truth About Santa. I told her I kind of already knew, but I agreed to continue to play along so I wouldn't ruin that special magic of childhood for him. By the time he was 13 or 14, he knew too and Santa ceased to come to my mom and dad's house. It was a little bittersweet. However, I was able to begin the tradition with my own children just a few short years later.
I couldn't help but reply to the post this morning. Here were my words regarding the belief of Santa and the spirit of the Christmas season:
"I'm the same way. And, if I'm being honest, I still gaze at the sky with wonder and look for that blinking red beacon of childhood. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy and nostalgic, if only for a few moments. My favorite time to look up is after coming out of the candlelight Christmas Eve service at church. It's cold and right around midnight and you can just feel something magical in the air."
I will always remember that Christmas with the jingle bells and the *thunk thunk thunk* on the roof. I will always remember how my brother used to be so excited that he'd shake as if he were standing in a snowdrift without a coat. I will always remember how Daddy would say, "Santy Claus can run if you're not in bed!", and how my mom would tell me, "Santa Claus is watching you!" with a menacing glimmer in her eye in order to correct my behavior. It cracks me up that she says it to my kids and even still says it to me when I'm snarky.
Thanks, Mama and Daddy, for making Christmas magical for all those years.