Even though my pile of presents under the white lighted Christmas tree, adorn with family ornaments, shrinks smaller each year, the warmth of my heart grows mightier and my spirit brightier. Or maybe that warmth is just all the liquor. Either way, it drapes my home on Christmas Eve and lingers in the air until everyone has gone, late Christmas night.
Christmas day consists of my immediate family. We've now been without either of my grandfathers for the past four Thanksgivings and Christmas'. We all still get together on Christmas day at my parents house like they have for twenty plus years now. It's laid back and the music is mellow, the food is delicious, the laughs are loud and the coffee is strong but my parents and I reminisced this past Christmas Eve about how festive, busy, red and green our shiny holiday use to be.
When I was small, I would rush to bed early because the sooner I fell to sleep, the sooner I could run down our blue carpeted stairs the next morning to see the sunlight shining on a plate of stale crumbs and a glass, coated with a film of dried, curdling milk. I'd jump up and down feeling the magic in the air as if santa had farted fairy dust on his way out while I was dreaming of the presents that I would find under the tree. We would start by disassembling our stockings in the living room. One by one, starting with little me, we'd start to pull our goodies out. Chapstick, chocolate, maps, compact discs, trinkets, doodads and other stocking stuffers would line the floors and the shreds of wrapping paper began collecting. Once Mom and Dad poured their coffee and the lights were all shown, we would enter the Christmas Tree Room. I'd been waiting hours upstairs, awake in bed for this moment. I'd close my eyes, walk in and peek through my little fingers and nearly pee with excitement as I'd find action figures and beanie babies and nerf guns laid out just for me, by Santa's generous hand. On my first Christmas, he left me a stuffed sheep that was bigger than I was! Another year I got a heavy plastic Dallas Cowboys sports locker for my bed room. As I got older I received a snare drum, a jukebox, my favorite print by Jack Vettriano in a glare-free frame and a fifteen inch television that is actually still currently in use. I am lucky and extremely grateful for the childhood I had.
We never had a chimney but I never second guessed it. Santa always treated me well and I knew that if I didn't believe, then I wouldn't receive. One time, I found a "made in China" sticker on one of my stocking stuffers a week after Christmas. Mom told me that Santa had elves all over the world. I bought into it. I remember my second grade teacher drove to each of her student's houses to leave little silver bells with our parents to place under the christmas tree as if Santa had gifted them, such as in the Children's book, The Polar Express. I may have been seven but I was no fool. My peers and I thought it was stranger than fiction. I'm sure it was soon after when the truth was laid out in front of me, one evil night over summer vacation.
"What about the Easter Bunny?! The Tooth Fairy too?!" I felt betrayed. Lied to. Used. Then I thought of all the gifts and coins and chocolate eggs, hidden with care and I realized I couldn't complain. Mom came home…
"Mom, I know."
"Know what honey?" she replied.
"Dad told me." I stood confidant.
"Told you what?" and she glared at my father. I said,
"Santa. I know that he doesn't really exists. That big white bunny too, Mom. And I want my teeth back." It was the first step of little me, growing up right before her very eyes. The following years were still just as magical though and full of surprises. I actually cried when I opened up my mandolin because I knew it was from the heart of my parents.
Santa brought me everything I wanted this year and I didn't even have to write a letter. The News said a couple weeks ago that the postal offices were inundated with letters to Santa. They read them right there. So many children write letters in hopes that they will get everything they want from Santa. This year, adults were also wrote to Santa! Feeling so desperate and still believing in the magic of the season, they feel as if they have no where else to turn to other than Old Saint Nick in hopes that they will find a job, a home, clothes, a smile for their children and a push out of debt. They said that even the children this year mostly asked for necessities instead of electronics.
This magical season brought me people I hadn't seen in months; Run-ins with friends from high school, long telephone conversations with three of my cousins I hadn't been caught up with, meeting and singing with new friends in Portsmouth, support from my favorite customers when told I was leaving and the reappearance of my one true love. Santa brought me everything I wanted this year: community. Santa placed my desires on the mantel by the stockings but guilt still dwells in the toes of your socks I stole. Santa's timing may have been a little off but somehow, it makes sense that the universe would slam the gears into the notches they are currently grinding into.
The radio stations have wrapped up the holiday tunes as the Christmas consumers jam the phone lines of technical support help desk numbers. It’s back to work and although Christmas day didn’t exactly feel like a "day off," it was another special holiday season spent with the people I love, my family. I hope that your holigays were spiritual no matter what you celebrate. It was a much merrier Christmas than expected for myself. I give thanks to those closest to me each season and if we all worked on a little unity, then everyone's holidays could be much more merrier than expected. Magic exists, just believe in yourself, it's within you.