I was going to post something else this week; however, since it is Christmas in a few days I decided to “deviate” from my usual ramblings and write something about the holidays. I thought I would share a few thoughts I had and what I remembered as a child when the season of joy rolled around once a year.
My wife was really into the Christmas spirit this year and to say I wasn’t would be an understatement. I guess because this time of the year isn’t what I remembered as a child and if I’m being honest I just don’t like it anymore.
However, I was at my one of my children’s college graduation last week and after the ceremony there was a reception in the dining hall. The college she attended is a private college that hasn’t changed much in the 150 years since it started. When I entered the dining hall, to my surprise it was actually decorated like I remember holiday decorating when I was young. The decorations “woke up” that little boy in me that loved Christmas so many years ago. I couldn’t believe someone actually took the time to decorate the hall in an intimate and true Christmas spirit. I can tell you my younger children were both fascinated and excited to see how beautiful everything was.
I remember as a young boy how exciting it was. As a child I grew up in a large inner city. I remember going to the big stores and just being in awe of the over the top decorations the stores had. They had elaborate window displays, Christmas music playing on the loud speakers. The stores were decked out in Christmas lights, Christmas trees and a never ending strand of garland. There was an overwhelming feeling of joy and happiness. I remember waiting in line for what seemed an eternity to sit on Santa’s lap so I could spew out my list of all the toys I wanted. I remember even telling Santa what my little brother would want because at the time he was too young to talk so I felt that if I didn’t tell Santa my little brother wouldn’t get anything. Even the people were different, they were patient, excited, and thrilled to be able to purchase a few nice gifts for the people they loved. It seemed like everyone said Merry Christmas with a smile and sense of genuine happiness.
Looking back, as a boy, I honestly believed Christmas for me represented hope. Albeit for presents but it was something to work towards. As a child you can’t really do much except listen to your parents. Kids can’t work extra hours for a promotion, they can’t save their money for bigger homes or fancier cars. What they can do is be good little boys and girls for their parents in the hopes when Saint Nick comes down the chimney they will be on the nice list and he will leave at least some of the presents on his list and not a lump of coal. As a child I also remember not getting everything I wanted because there were other little boys and girls around the world and they needed something too.
I remember not being able to sleep on Christmas Eve because the anticipation of the following morning was nauseating. I would remember the previous years and all the presents and I was hopeful this year would be the same or even better. After all, I would wait all year to get all the things I thought a little boy should have and this was my one shot at it.
I remember waking my parents and brothers at 6 am so I could run down the stairs and embark on the journey of a lifetime, as least to a child. I remember everyone being so happy with all of the gifts. I remember the smiles and pride on my parents faces, probably because they were happy they did a good job of choosing presents and they were thrilled they made a few wishes came true. By the way, at the time, I still believed in Santa and my parents left it like that for as long as they could.
THE DEVIANT VIEW on Christmas
I originally wrote this post about all the things I despise about Christmas and how it has turned into an overly commercialized, consumer nightmare to buy as much crap as possible for anyone and anything that has a heartbeat. After I saw the decorations in the dining hall of the college, I think I finally understood what my wife was saying and wanted to write about what Christmas represented to me as a boy.
I have a hard time reconciling how ignorant I can be sometimes. While I was writing this post I remembered when my son got to the age of asking if Santa was real. I remember what I said to him. I said “Santa is what you choose to believe. If you believe in the hope and possibilities of what he represents than Santa will always be real. It doesn’t matter who brings the presents.” Sadly, I have not taken my own advice.
I didn’t do so well this year to create the proper Christmas spirit for my younger children but next year I will try a little harder. I want them to believe in Santa and the possibilities he represents for as long as they can. I have wished I could still believe in Santa and that feeling of happiness, now I realize Santa never went away my belief in what he represents did.
I have not personally taken the advice I gave my son so many years ago. I am not perfect and my shortcomings are many. Next year not only will I try to take my own advice but also my wife’s as she is clearly a little wiser than me.
May you all believe in Santa,