No, this entry is not going to be particularly religious.
So, my 11-year-old nephew Daniel recently had that sadly inevitable childhood rite of passage; he found out that the presents he’s given from Santa are actually bought, wrapped, and tagged by his parents, no different than the gifts that say “From Mom and Dad.” He’s a sensitive boy, and he took the news very badly, especially since he at the same time figured out the loving lies that are the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. He was furious that he had been tricked and says now he doesn’t know what to believe anymore. It broke my sister’s heart…all of ours, really. Eleven is really quite old to have this revelation, I think, so I suppose Daniel was just due for this. But I do wish he wasn’t so crushed.
I think I was around eight or nine when I realized that Santa’s and Mrs. Claus’s and Rudolph’s presents to me and my sisters were really from my parents. My mother says I took it well and pretended to believe for the sake of my younger sisters, to not ruin the experience for them. Being very imaginative, I easily switched over to what every adult in my family, as far as I know, believes – Santa does not bring gifts personally to each child, but he does exist. He is the spirit of Christmas, a magical bringer of peace, love, and giving.
I am the child of free-spirited hippie parents, who were smart enough to never quash the beliefs of their children, even when it came to monsters. Nothing could make me not believe in monsters, so they assured me there were no monsters where we lived, put a vial of holy water above my door, and told me the holly trees on our property protected us. My bible was a kid’s book about how to deal with all different types of monsters, I practically had it memorized. It was my way of dealing with my fears, and unlike my friends at sleepovers, I was not frightened by horror movies or weird things happening when we used our Ouija board. (Yes, I was allowed to use them, after being taught precautions.)
It’s Christmas Eve, and I spent most of the day at my younger sister’s house, with her, her boyfriend, and my nephews Jake and Jaxson. Jake’s been having a tough time at school, so it was nice to see him so relaxed and happy, and I think it was as much seeing family as it was the almost-$200 gift I brought him (I’m an idiot, I know). It’s Jaxson’s first Christmas, and it was amazing to see him participating in traditions for the first time, staring in awe at the Christmas tree, pointing to it and saying “Oooh.” It’s extra-special each time a new family member encounters Christmas. We’re more a Halloween family, definitely, and few of us are Christian, but this time of year has been magic for me my whole life. Everything sad and painful recedes until it’s beyond my sight. My heart, which I closed long ago in order to function, opens for a little while, and for a few days I feel as close to my family as I’d like to be all the time.
Whatever you believe and whoever you are, I wish you peace, today and always.