Is Santa real? Of course. It doesn’t hurt to have a fantasy while knowing full well the actual truth. It reminds me of one of my favorite sayings: For those who THINK, the world is a tragedy; for those who FEEL, the world is a symphony. Being a thinker who feels is the best combination of all.
It seems that the way each of us approaches Christmas stems from our childhood. As a military brat who bounced around Air Force bases with my family until dad retired, the approach to Christmas was traditional. Gift giving, gift receiving, buying a Christmas tree, decorating it, a few holiday props around the house, but beyond that we didn’t do outside lighting or nativity scenes.
We dedicated at least one night to driving around to admire those homes and businesses that went all out. In every town or city, a few standouts created bumper-to-bumper sightings.
Some gift buyers play it smart and do all the shopping long before December 25. My mom did, my wife does. I’m one of those who waits until just a few days before Christmas to buy presents. I curse the crowded parking lots and elbow-to-elbow crush of buyers in the stores, but at the same time feel exhilarated to be amid all the excitement.
Unfortunately, patience runs thin at times what with long lines and occasional pushing and shoving. I hate rudeness when it inevitably occurs. As dad always said, rudeness breeds rudeness, but it’s not a wise adage to follow. Being rude in return to someone with bad manners puts you in the same boat.
Although our family was never what you’d call well off, we also never faced poverty. I’ve never been hungry a day in my life; I’ve never been forced to sleep in the cold or rain outside. Mom prepared three meals a day for our family of four. She made sure I always had a closet full of clothes. Dad took me fishing, taught me how to play golf and baseball.
Most importantly, I was loved. It took me years to appreciate all that I had and to realize not everyone enjoyed the same way of life. Naivety prevailed, unaware of children facing abuse and paying little notice to those who went without meals or stuck wearing hand-me-downs. Homeless people were as foreign to me as people living in another country. To them, Christmas never found them around a Christmas tree in a warm house opening one present after the next.
Shame on me.
At the same time, living in the protected world that is a military base, it did no good to foreswear whatever privileges that shown on me. That included celebrating Christmas with family, enjoying turkey and all the trimmings, slices of pies and cakes and fresh, warm cookies, while admiring presents received and hoping our gifts would be appreciated.
Being a Christian, Christmas is much more than eating and exchanging presents or carols. Long before becoming a “senior citizen,” I’ve often reflected on those who don’t believe in Santa or religion or give a hoot about the holidays. I respect their views and suspect, like myself, they’re based on how they were raised.
Whether rich or poor, I hope your Christmas at least brings you peace and happiness. We all need, no matter how we feel about the holidays.