Christmas is usually the time of year when we reflect on the months past, and begin looking to the months ahead. It’s also the time of year when the “spirit” hits; some of us put up a simple Christmas tree, while others hang garland and cover their windows with twinkling lights and canned snow. Whether your decorating style is modest or leans more toward the flamboyant side, we’ve got to admit that, as we get older, it gets just a little bit harder to keep the holiday spirit alive. Fortunately for me, I’ve got the memory of my father to help me along.
As a kid, I can remember my mother and father doing everything they could to make sure we not only believed in Santa, but that we loved and appreciated the magic of the holiday season. It was a sacred time of year; they so wanted us to remain children and, quite simply, to never stop believing. Mom did the decorating, and Dad supported her wholeheartedly; I can still remember vividly all the Christmases where we’d wake up in the middle of the night to “hear” Santa assembling our toys. Thinking back, I wonder (with a giggle) how often Pop must’ve practiced his “ho ho ho” for our benefit.
When Dad died in 2009, the holidays seemed to come to a crashing halt. I honestly can’t remember that first holiday without him; it passed in a blur. But through the pain I came to understand that he wouldn’t have wanted life to stop, and he wouldn’t have wanted us to lose our Christmas spirit. I’ve learned that there is, as they say, a “reason for the season.” Life tends to swallow us whole during the course of the year, but the holiday season is our chance to love as hard as we can through giving and pausing a moment to thank the Universe for all that we have.
So, this season, that’s what I ask of you. Remember how great it was to go to sleep at night with butterflies in your tummy because you just knew that, if you couldn’t get to sleep, Santa might not show up. Remember your feeling of elation when you woke up to find Santa’s thank you note next to the plate of half-eaten cookies. Keep the spirit alive and enjoy the fact that, while we are no longer children, the tingling magic of Christmas that dissolves into the delight of shouting “Happy New Year!” with a can of silly string and a handful of confetti still lives in all of us. We just have to remember.
I thank Pop every year for the memories and laughter he left me. His last Christmas with us, he gave me a card like he did every year. The envelope simply reads, Love, Santa. It still warms my heart to think that, no matter how many years went by, he still enjoyed keeping the Christmas spirit alive.