i know, i know, it’s not standard practice to send off a missive the day after christmas. but, geez, santa, i have been known to make my boys sit down and scribble their oh-my-gosh thank yous to you and the elves, and, well, this year, seems i too felt a bit of the great oh-my-gosh.
i had every intention, on christmas itself, of tiptoeing down at the crack of the dawn, of plugging the tree in, shaking the cinnamon into my coffee, pulling a chair up to this old french pine table here where i do all my typing, penning some thoughts and sending them off to the pole.
ah, but then in the stillness, in the part of the story where ol’ clement c. moore writes, “not a creature was stirring…” well, there was a stirring, all right. more like a clomping, right outa bed, onto the creakiest floor board in this creaky old house.
the little one was up, was ready to dash down the stairs. but the big one, the one who at 14 is a little less–but only a little, i assure you–eager to rise in the dark, grope under the tree to see what maybe you dropped from your lumpy red sack. well, he couldn’t be stirred from deep in his forest of slumber.
and around here, there’s an unspoken code: it’s all or none in the lunge for the tree, come christmas morn.
so i had my hands full for an hour or so. read every book we could find to try to distract the little one. (by the way, speaking of dear mr. moore, the early riser refused to let me read for the 98th time this season, “the night before christmas,” saying it was no longer the night before, and he had no patience for a tale whose prime had expired.)
then, poor thing, sated with stories and turning of pages, he just stood at the door outside the bathroom while the big one took a shower, brushed his teeth, did everything ‘cept slap on the aftershave to draw out the minutes into nearly half of an hour.
the poor little one drummed his fingers, he did. so did his papa. it was an exercise in delayed gratification, yes it was, and the child managed, just barely, to make it.
at last, both boys, their buffalo footsteps in tandem, tore down the stairs, shook the old timbers, and wasted no time exploring their respective small mounds.
well, let me just say, santa, that the child was bowled over by your goodness. he must have said 85 times, “that santa is the sweetest best person in the whole world.”
and, well, as the whole sparkle-filled day kept unfolding, as the shoulder pads that he’d asked for were squeezed over his head, as the big one clicked the new lens for his camera, as all of us reveled in the day that finally had come, the day of going nowhere, doing nothing but reveling in the completion of yet another cycle of waiting, preparing, occasionally running like mad, well, i couldn’t help but think that the whole notion of santa really is paving the way for a knowing the God who is good, who is full of surprises, who delights, who draws wonder, who gives what isn’t even thought to be asked for.
and well, that really is reason for me to believe in the believing in santa. to watch little eyes light up. to see a six-year-old swirling in smiles.
oh, i know christmas isn’t about santa. i know you’re just an add-on to the main event. i know, i know.
but watching the little one bathe in a warm tub of wishes-come-true, i couldn’t help but feel blessed that he knows what it is to believe in invisible goodness.
to believe in the power of someone who comes in the cloak of the nighttime, who leaves not a trace, except for the white filmy rim there in the milk glass, and the crumbs on a plate where, just before bedtime, cookies had been plucked from the tin with serious thought and a level of care that managed to push back the climb into bed by at least five or 10 minutes.
it’s not a bad start for a life of believing in things we can’t see. in a goodness that, time and again, will bring us our wildest dreams. and then some.
not a bad start for knowing that out in the beyond there is a someone who’s there whether we’re looking or not. who is there to tap on our shoulder, to put a hand to the small of our back. to reach out a hand–even two if we need it–to drag us up from the depth of our depths.
not a bad start, and not a bad middle.
here i am, here at my mid-century mark, and once again, all over again, i am marveling, believing in the jolly old elf with the belly that wiggles like a bowl full of jelly.
merry christmas, ol’ elf. merry merry.
i know i didn’t write you a letter this year, didn’t ask for even one thing. but you delivered, you did. what you brought came plain on the face of a boy with eyes all aglow, and heart all atwitter. ‘twas breathtaking, my friend. and thank you is all i wanted to say.
so, thank you, dear santa. thank you so very much.
love, year after year,
the little one’s mama
merry boxing day, anyone who’s taken a minute to make it over here to the table. i sure did mean to get out my merry christmas ahead of time, but well a strep germ rather got in the way. did you have a magical moment of believing at your house yesterday? did you see something in someone’s eyes that melted your heart?
as i lolligagged my way through probably the sweetest christmas i can remember, i realized that christmas is a day that bubbles up what’s deepest in our hearts, whether that’s grief or loneliness or–if we’re lucky, if we’re incredibly blessed–just pure joy. can’t say as i’ve ever had a christmas before that felt quite so full. christmas, for a very long time, has been one with a big gaping hole. something wonderful is filling in that empty space. maybe it’s a bit of what we’ve created together here at the place where the chairs are pulled up. for that, i say thank you to you and thank you on high. merry everything. love, the chair lady