I was thinking this morning, “If the Ghost of Christmas Past appeared to me what would he show me in my life to bring back a belief in the good of people and Christmas?”
Bonus points if you can name this movie!
A couple of Christmas memories really stand out. I remember being about 8-9 years-old and we were getting ready for bed about a week before Christmas. My mother was trying to get us to put our “good” pajamas on but I was refusing. I had a pair of lime green pajamas that were nearly thread bare but they had white “fur” around the pant legs, wrists and collar. I just knew I was “fancy” in these pajamas. They were my favorite and I was not going to change them. She kept trying to convince me but eventually just gave up. We went to bed and shortly after we heard the doorbell ring.
The doorbell? First of all almost no one used the front door in our house, ever. If you were a friend or relative you came to the side door and knocked as you entered or waited for someone to answer the door. Only strangers used the front door. My mother called upstairs to us. As we came downstairs, there was Santa.
Santa was big and jolly with thick, black, horned rimmed glasses? We told Santa what we wanted for Christmas the entire time asking, “Uncle Bob? Is that you?” Because he was the only person we knew that wore horn rimmed glasses and would be Santa. We had our pictures taken and headed back to bed never really knowing who Santa was. About 20 years later my father recalled this story and told us it was someone he worked with that would volunteer to be Santa for co-workers kids. I thought it was sweet and still do. For two children on the cusp of not believing in the magic of Christmas this memory stands out.
The second memory is of my son. He too was about 8 or 9 years-old and was struggling with his belief in Santa Claus. This was tough for us because our daughter, about the age of 3, told us that she thought Santa was an angel who encourages us to give gifts to each other for Jesus’ birthday. So, we went with that. She was never a big believer in Santa Claus, outside of the angel piece, so we never did “Santa.” But, our son? He was totally into Santa from the beginning. He wanted to go see Santa, wrote letters to Santa and was all about the gifts from Santa.
That year as we left for a Myrtle Beach vacation a few days before Christmas I had my son go in and turn off the tree lights as we left. He was the last one in the house and our tree stood in the center of the room looking sad. He kept asking us, “Will Santa find us?”, “How can he just change where we are?” We told him that we had a few gifts for them to open at Christmas. “But, Santa will bring the rest?”, he asked. “We will see,” is all we answered.
So Christmas came in Myrtle Beach. A few gifts from my parents and brother and sister-in-law were under tree for the kids. We opened gifts first thing in the morning and spent the rest of the day on the beach looking for shells and digging in the sand. My son kept saying, “I knew he wasn’t real.”
A few days after Christmas we said our good-byes and headed home. We had a great time on vacation but there was still a bit of sadness in the air. When we arrived home I unlocked the door and my son rushed by me into the house. As he turned into the living room I heard a gasp. As we walked in he started yelling, “I do believe! I do believe!” The tree was lit and underneath the tree were gifts for he and his sister. As they say in “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”, his heart grew three sizes that day.
I still think of that Christmas often and how we were able to extend the belief in magic a few more years. Now that he knows the secrets of Christmas magic I hope he will some day draw on his own Christmas memories and give the magic to his children.