What lore has Santa left you?
Are the holidays for you a cautionary tale, or do you subscribe to cheer and revelry all the way? Is your story filled with highs and lows? Do you yet seek that storybook ending?
My kids are on the cusp of leaving their first Santa beliefs behind, although I’m not sure I ever will. At worst my oldest tries to submarine the views of my youngest, but not overtly. At best, they ask pointed questions.
I steadfastly and repeatedly respond, “If you believe, then he will come.” Very field of dreams of me, I admit.
I may never face the facts as presented to me when I was six — angrily and with more than a hint of “Got ya!” by my sister. She was mad at me because she had chicken pox, and I didn’t — yet.
So that brings me to my next question, “Do your early holiday experiences set the stage for life, or at some point, do you become your own director?”
Surly the answer is the latter, but there are some childhood memories that cut such a deep gully in our gut, they never totally dry up — good or bad, and they almost always center around the holidays. I still call my childhood friend most years just after "present opening hour" to say, "What'd ya get?" just like I did when we were 10 and living two meters apart. I'm not totally certain she realizes why I do that. But it makes my day.
For me the holidays reflect differently depending on what pool of life I’ve been swimming in.
This year is a little strained, and I’ve been sort of surfing through the necessary Santa-like steps without much vigor. In recent years we’ve been surrounded by a flurry of activity, friends and family, and this year we’re on our own. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not what the holidays have come to mean to me.
I like a good crowd. And people don’t think I relax enough when the house is full, but that’s the way I like it. A full to over-flowing house, and me somewhere in the middle of the mix doin’ my thing. This makes me happy. Relaxing really isn’t how I roll much, anyway.
So I’m trying to wrap my misgivings around a new perspective. We’re doing things differently this year, and I’m curious about how I’ll feel — happy or sad — through it all.
My Aunt Wendy told me once she keeps her Christmas music in her car year-round, because it makes her happy. I love that idea. In fact, each year I seem to buy a new Christmas song book to play on the piano or guitar, but I don’t really get motivated much before Thanksgiving to begin playing.
But I could be anywhere, and when one of the songs comes on from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, I stop and listen. For a while I did public relations for a ballet company. As crazy as it was, I never tired of the music or watching the glitz and the glitter from all angles on stage during Nutcracker season. And then later the same came true for me at Great Lakes Theater Festival during A Christmas Carol. Time spent in the theatre was and is magical — anytime, but especially at Christmas time.
My dad passed away just before Christmas. This evokes such sad memories, but also it was his favorite time of year, even though he may’ve never admitted it. I like to remember him surrounded by family and his favorite holiday fare. Maybe this is where I get my inkling to by surrounded. Maybe that's my dad's legacy.
And now my oldest daughter Zoe shares my love for all things theatre and Nutcracker. She was lucky enough to perform with The Washington Ballet while we lived in DC. She told me today, "I was in Act 1, scene six, mom." Wow. She could probably pull out the exact stanza of her entrance, too. I'm pretty certain these memories are sure enough to shape her future holidays.
So maybe that’s a large part of the answer. Our memories comprise our internal almanac, which forecast weather based on historic outlook. In other words, we may never truly be free of Santa’s early legacy, but we are fully capable of creating memories of our own design for years to come.
Here's to you and yours. Cheers.