I have a confession to make, dear friends.  I still believe in Santa.

My mom worked very hard to make sure I believed in Santa as long as possible, and I did far after my friends and other kids had grown jaded and cynical.  One year she even made dirty boot prints on our carpet, a mortal sin in our house and punishable by slow, torturous death, only to complain about having to clean it up.  That Santa, she said, he can come down a chimney, but he can’t deliver presents without making a mess?  There were years of half eaten cookies of which I took pictures with dreams of running dental records, glasses of half drunk milk, and dozens of letters and pictures left for Santa.  Yes, my friends, my mother suffered terribly in her role as Santa.  I often wondered in later years why she went through so much work.  All kids eventually stop believing in Santa or dragging their irrefutable proof of his existence to school for skeptical friends on the first day back to school.

The simple answer is the sheer excitement, mystery, and wonder that comes from waiting for Santa.  For years my cousins and I would swear we heard sleigh bells and feet on the roof.  Hubby’s mom even snuck him to the top of the stairs one year to witness Santa, proxied by Pop-pop, to suspend his belief for a few more years.  Especially for kids like Hubby and I were, kids who knew too much and always looked for more answers, it was hard to keep that belief and excitement alive.

I have not yet had the opportunity to have  Christmas morning with Lil Guy, but his excitement around opening presents and Santa this year was contagious.  I hope someday we can come to some kind of agreement with his mother, but I hope more that she does what she can to keep that spirit alive in him as long as possible.  Too often we stress to children their need to mature and grow, and we let those things that keep them young and vibrant well into their adult years fall by the wayside.  Children need a good portion of fantasy and mystery in their lives in order to not become adults with no sense of imagination or silliness.  Bah humbug to that!

In any case, it appears this year, his five-year old’s excitement was contagious, and could not have needed it more than I did this year.  With Hubby and I apart for the holidays for the first time in four years,  it had been a stretch for me to find the spirit.  I was going through all the motions and waiting for January until one night I had a thought.  I hadn’t had Christmas with my family in at least six years, and I missed it.  I’ve always had jobs that kept me home at Christmas, but this year I had enough seniority to get the day off.  If I could find people willing to pick up the rest I would fly to California for Christmas.

The logistics here were rough.  I decided to make it a surprise to everyone but my dad, who would have to pick me up.  I wanted that excitement!  The last few times I’d seen my maternal grandmother she’d seemed down and a little depressed, and I hoped this would brighten her day a little.  I also didn’t know if I could get there.  Because my day job is at an airline,  I fly for free, but I fly standby.  To fly standby at Christmas is a gamble all around.  I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up and not make it after all.

So, I schemed.  My dad helped.  Co-workers were kind, and flights were miraculously free of a seat or two.  Lo and behold, Santa arrived in Oakland two days early on a Boeing 737, carrying me!  I was as excited as a kid on…well, Christmas.

What I didn’t know is that both grandmothers had been having a bit of a rough year, and both of them needed a little extra Christmas spirit.  When I showed up at the first one’s house she almost fell over.  Then she cried.  The other was so excited after I called that she rearranged her plans the next day and couldn’t sleep that night.  They needed to reconnect as much as I did.

And so it began!  My dad and I drove the neighbourhood looking for elaborate displays of Christmas lights.  My grandmother and I made the cemetery rounds, and I was able to reconnect with the family I’ve lost.  Afterwards we had lunch and were finally able to talk like we haven’t been able to do in a long time.  It’s been an amazing experience.  While Hubby and I may have needed the overtime pay, but he recognized this need as well and encouraged me to do what was best for me and my spirit.  We can make up the money.  I would never have been able to make up this time with my family.

While I only celebrate Christmas secularly, this is what it’s about to me.  It’s about family, togetherness, and excitement.  It’s about sharing, connecting, and laughing together no matter how rough the year has been.  It’s about hope for the coming year and casting off the grudges and petty arguments of the past year.  It’s about excitement, mystery, and surprise.  It’s about magic.  It may be only a part of the Spirit of Christmas, as I do respect that it is a holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ, but it is the power behind the Spirit of Santa and the reason I will always believe.


Go now, have a Merry Christmas!