They consoled me and tried to get me to help wrap presents for my siblings, but that moment must have carried with me. I kind of feel sorry for my parents now, having such a black and white precocious child as it must have been a challenge! While I carried on the pretending of a mythical, fat, jolly, stranger man coming down the chimney to deliver presents to good boys and girls, I decided early on in my parenting it wasn't a tradition I would continue with my own children. Being a young mom I still viewed the world as very black and white and the idea of "lying" to my kids didn't set well.
When they were old enough to ask questions, we explained to them Santa was kind of like Mickey Mouse and other characters in stories. Santa was based on stories about giving. I read them stories from around the world about dear old Claus. They were encouraged early on not to spoil the secret for their friends at school.
When I moved with my children back to Montana and subsequently remarried, there were many challenges and differences in our parenting which Seth and I had to navigate. Santa Claus was one of those. My oldest daughter, who is a chip off the old precocious block, informed me she thought she could manage to pretend to believe in Santa for the sake of her new siblings as long as it meant extra presents. She also informed me it would help her out at school when asked what Santa brought her for Christmas as when she had replied "nothing" her peers thought she must have been particularly naughty. Not something I ever thought of when I was making these important parenting decisions.
The second Christmas we shared as a family was a memorable one. Two dear neighbors decided they would enjoy playing Santa with the Beech kids. Ron dressed up as Mr Claus and Wendell was his helper. The joy those two men bringing a bag of gifts to the Beech kids is not one I'll ever forget. I watched as the children thanked "Santa" for their gifts and I caught a glimpse of the magic of the season. I remembered raising down the stairs as a child to see what Santa had brought us. I even recalled the year my cousin got a box full of hickory switches in place of a train set and being thankful I hadn't been naughty. The "joke" was later rectified and he received his train set.
I now can see the value in the tradition of Santa. I can see the lessons and morals it was originally intended to teach. Now days with all the commercialism, parents face many challenges in sharing traditions and values in a meaningful way without all the hype over shadowing them .
My dad loved the Christmas Season. He loved surprises and loved giving. I miss him this time of year. He and my mom made sure we had many memorable family moments to look back on. I remember my dad taking us shopping for a family who was in need of a little Christmas Miracle. We sat in the Suburban as he delivered a tree, ornaments, and gifts to a mother with 3 young children. The excitement and joy on my dad's face as he told us of her thankfulness spoke much to my young heart. My parents taught us the spirit of Christmas. It is in the giving.
My faith tradition is that of a baby being born in a manger in a Little Town of Bethlehem. It is of the Son of God bringing peace and glad tidings to all of mankind. It embraces the epitome of giving to others. Whatever your faith or traditions during this season, I hope you will find simple joy in the act of giving and encourage you to look outside your own home and life and see just where you can be a blessing to others.