The saying goes that Christmas is for the children; that feeling of having to be tucked into bed before midnight on Christmas Eve because Santa can’t come if they aren’t sleeping. They wake up early and peek out to see the gifts, shiny and wrapped underneath the tree and run to wake up their parents, exhausted from being up wrapping all night. I think we can all admit that, although we still love to get presents, it just isn’t the same as we get older.
The truth is, it was never really about the gifts. Even as we sat and cut pictures out of the Toys ‘R’ Us Catalog, ensuring that Santa couldn’t mix-up what it was we were asking for, there was something more going on. We could’ve asked our parents for those same toys and, knowing that they stood in line outside of the store for four hours on Thanksgiving night in the freezing cold to make sure they got what we wanted before they sold out, we still wouldn’t feel the same. The truth is, beyond the toys, new shoes, cell phones, whatever it is we simply couldn’t live without, it was about magic. It was about tracking Santa (on the radio for those of us who grew up before you could track Santa online). Christmas was about looking out your window from the backseat of the car on Christmas Eve, holding your breath, hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa in his sleigh, flying by over head. It was about caroling in the snow, that one year that it snowed on Christmas Eve, just before midnight. And it was about believing your parents when they threatened to call Santa when you were being bad. Christmas was about that sense that, for twenty-four hours, everything is right in the world and anything is possible.
As we grow older, we lose that sense of wonder that makes childhood so special. We get wrapped up in the frustration of circling the parking lots for hours looking for somewhere to park that isn’t in a different zip code from the store. We complain about long lines and things being sold out. Christmas becomes a chore. But, whether we are sixty or six or somewhere in between, the true meaning of Christmas should remain the same in our hearts; we should never forget that sense that anything can happen. We need to find a way to still believe in magic. There is nothing I could ever unwrap from under my Christmas Tree that could take the place of the memories I have created with the people I love, the big Italian dinners on Christmas Eve, complete with intoxicated over-the-hillers behaving like children; forgetting their cares and their differences. And, while I no longer believe that a big jolly fat man in a red suit breaks into my house in the middle of the night to leave me presents, I do believe that the holidays are a time of year where people give a little bit more. I do believe that there are little Christmas miracles happening around us and we can all be a part of making that happen.
Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, whatever your beliefs may be, remember that there are others around us who don’t have nearly as much as we do. And they aren’t in another country, they are down the street, or right next door. They have no presents to put underneath their tree for their children. They have no turkey or ham to cook. While we are complaining about the long lines, there are people stuck working in those stores on Christmas Eve instead of spending time with their families. As we are annoyed with the constant ringing of the bells outside the supermarket, being asked for money when we just need to pick up some things to bake yet another batch of cookies, those people ringing the bells have been there for hours. And they are freezing. This Christmas, don’t look out the window from the backseat of the car, waiting to see a little magic. Create a little magic, just one Christmas Miracle of your own.
To you and yours, Merry Christmakwanzahannukah. And Happy Festivus for the rest of us!!!
Some of my favorite holiday magic: