It's that time of year when we reflect on our childhood Christmases and those we miss at this time of year who are no longer with us. I tend to look at my relationship with the red-suited man over the years.
This childhood letter to Santa with horrible spelling was requesting a game called "Toss-Across," a bell bottom suit and a game called "Oh Nuts."
Our tradition was to open Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve after smorgasbord/yulbord. On Christmas night we five kids slept in the same room to be sure no one sneaked out to see what Santa left. On Christmas morning, Santas gifts would be left unwrapped under the tree.
Only one Christmas I got what I asked for, 1976 a mood ring. Otherwise, my parents did not buy toys. They wanted us to be creative and to use the huge estate we lived in to explore, become one with nature, build treeforts, and make cars out of cardboard boxes. Creativity abounded and I am thankful for that upbringing.
When I moved past the Santa gifts age, Christmas became a bit of a bore, except for the homemade fudge. That was always welcome.
Becoming a parent, Santa arrived again with great excitement. Ironically, my married name was Clauss and one time when Santa left his thank you for the cookies, he signed it Santa Clauss (out of habit). My son thought it was cool that Santa realized we had similar names. I was greatly relieved.
I get to relive it again with a grandchild and it is wonderful.
Still, as a single adult in her middle years, Santa has become like an old relative that you adore and who isn't seen much anymore. You have fond memories, you smile when you think of his laughter, and you grieve his visits ending.
And, in this way Santa reminds me of life. As we age, we tend to give up dreams, fantasies, hopes, wishes, and anticipation. We think we know exactly what life brings us each day, even Christmas Day.
I believe at this time of life, having anyone in your life who thinks of you on that precious day is a wish come true. Every Christmas card is counted. Every "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" is taken with a smile.
The jingle of the Salvation Army bucket becomes a call to arms for everyone to stop, fish around in their pockets and be a Santa for someone. That is the spirit of Christmas. That never dies.