Saturday, December 15, 2012

On Being Santa

Image courtesy of Robert Cochrane /
The Christmas my daughter was two, old enough to be aware of Christmas, my mother-in-law really saved the day.
We were flying across the country to visit, so I was thinking, “Fit in suitcase.” We didn’t have a lot of money, so I was thinking, “Inexpensive.” And, I admit, I was thinking “Educational.”
What I wasn’t thinking about was the baby – and what she would think.
Oh, I thought I was. But the gifts I bought were small and not flashy. When I pulled them out of the suitcase and wrapped them, they made a paltry pile.

And that’s when my mother-in-law brought out her gifts. I don’t think they were expensive, but they were big – I’m talking size – and flashy. Just the things to make a toddler’s eyes shine on Christmas morning.

Every since that year – my little girl is now 17 – I have always been mindful of “the pile,” the visual perception.
People rightly decry materialism and spending more than you have and cheap plastic crap that ends up in the landfill.
But gift-giving doesn’t have to be that and it can be so much more.

When I was growing up, my family wasn’t wealthy and my sisters and I weren’t greedy. But I can still remember magic, even when I was well past believing in Santa. To look around after the present-opening and realize that my family knew me well enough to know what I wanted – and could even choose things for me that I hadn’t known to want, that was where the warm feeling came from, the feeling of being known and loved.

And sometimes that means knowing that a two-year-old will be thrilled by something big and shiny.

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