I was a lucky kid. I grew up in a neighborhood where my cousins lived two doors down and my aunt and uncle lived across the street. Everybody knew everybody and, as kids, we were in and out of each other’s houses all the time.
But one afternoon, I came home early, upset at some news my cousin Ann had given me. I don’t remember how old I was, but I was young and very troubled by this news.
“What’s wrong?” my mother asked after I came storming into our house.
“Ann says there is no Santa Claus!” I replied.
My mother looked at me, took me by the hand and led me into the living room. She sat down at the piano and patted the piano bench for me to sit down beside her. Then she started playing Christmas carols and singing.
Pretty soon, I was singing along with her. We sang for quite a while and I kind of forgot why I was so upset.
After a bit, my mom stopped playing and read something to me about the spirit of Christmas. She told me about the spirit of giving and, in context of the Christmas story, what the first gift symbolized at the season we now know as Christmas.
She explained how Christmas got its name. And she explained that while Santa Claus is a character who helps many people understand giving and receiving presents, the real reason we share at Christmas season is less about a man in a red suit scurrying around the planet leaving gifts for children than about the gift of child by the creator to teach us lessons about living life on earth peacefully and abundantly.
My mother never said there was a Santa Claus. She never said there wasn’t a Santa Claus. All she said was that giving was about the spirit of a season for Christian people around the world.
And, she added that we should never give to receive, but to feel the joy of sharing with others whenever we can. To feel the spirit of Christmas is to understand the real meaning of Christmas, she said.
We sang a few more songs and I eventually slid off the piano bench reassured that Christmas as I’d always known it was not suddenly ending.
Maybe I’ve always been a little miffed at my cousin Ann for popping my bubble of belief in the story of Santa, but I’ll always remember how my mom handled that day. She made it all OK. She reminded me of what I needed to remember.
And to this day, when I find myself overwhelmed by the most mass-commercialized and distorted season of giving imaginable, I tiptoe my brain back to my mother’s piano bench and hear two voices singing in the afternoon. The spirit of Christmas was right there in the living room that day.
- Lisa D. Mickey, Dec. 25, 2013