Thank you all for making 2011 a wonderful year of growth for this blog and for the sense of community I’ve found in each and every one of you. In the busyness of this season, I’ve been finding it hard to make time to sit down and remember to count my blessings. But this Christmas Eve, I plan to spend the day at home with family, with little on the schedule except baking some cookies for Santa Claus.
I have traditionally not been a big fan of Santa. While I did grow up with presents from Santa, it was not over the top, and some of the idiosyncrasies of his visits to my immigrant family alerted me pretty early on that the gifts he left were really from my parents. As an adult, I’ve associated with Santa Claus with all things artificial, treacly, consumer, and entitled. When I was talking to my kids about donating food and clothing to a local charity, Little Brother recently asked me, “Why don’t poor people just ask Santa for presents?” I had a hard time trying to come up with an answer that explained that Santa doesn’t always bring everything we want, while not completely bursting his bubble. Not that a little bubble bursting might not be a bad thing. I’ve had many conversations with HapaPapa in which I’ve been advocating to pull the plug on him in favor of emphasizing other aspects of Christmas — lighting Advent candles, donating to shelters, and singing hymns.
As my children grow older, I am revisiting my aversion to all things sparkly and silly. Big Brother will turn ten next year, and I can see him growing and changing right before my eyes. Last night, we read a book about baking cookies, as well as a few stories about the birth of Christ out of a children’s Bible. With my pajama’d kids snuggled around me, begging to hear more stories, I took a mental snapshot and reminded myself to savor the moment. My boys may look big, but inside there is still that sense of childlike wonder and faith, and that is something I hope they never lose.
While Santa may not be the center of my Christmas celebration, I do have a new found appreciation for what he represents. Maybe I haven’t been giving my kids — and people in general — enough credit. Perhaps it is possible to be aware of the seriousness and the injustice of real life and to know that true joy doesn’t come in a gift box under the tree, while at the same time having room to dream and hope. It is my wish to you this holiday season that you may be able to believe in things unseen and work to change the things we can see.