Magical and Holy

Santa is a big deal. He’s a big deal if you’re a kid and
believe he’s real. He’s a big deal if you’re a baby and your parents force you
to sit on his lap and take a picture even though you don’t want to cuddle a
stranger with a long scary beard. He’s a big deal if you have strong feelings
regarding lying to your kids to keep the Christmas magic alive. And he’s a
really big deal if you believe that Santa is a commercial, fake character whose
only existence is to take away the “reason for the season”.
I believed in Santa as a kid and remember my dad going to
great trouble to convince us of his existence; tracks in the snow, a letter
written in penmanship that was definitely neither of my parents’, having a
family friend dress up as Santa and narrowly escaping our house before any of
us could recognize him. It was exciting and magical.
I understood the true meaning of Christmas, as Charlie Brown
so adorably tells us every year. We read and re-read the story of Jesus’ birth,
singing Christmas carols reminding us of God’s greatest gift sent to earth.
This story will never grow old.
This is why when my parents broke the news to me that Santa
was not real; I didn’t melt into a puddle of tears. I didn’t question my
parents’ morals for carrying on such a lie. I didn’t feel robbed, as I had
begun to have my own suspicions. Instead, I felt let in on a grown up secret,
one that I would now be a part of. My parents made it clear that I shouldn’t
ruin it for my younger siblings and I wouldn’t dream of it. I was now ‘in the
know’ and privy to who knows how many other wonderful secrets of Christmas.

Kids love getting presents, well, human beings love getting
presents. Some kids believe at Christmas those gifts come from Santa; my
daughter happens to be one of them. This excitement and fun of Santa bringing
presents on Christmas Eve doesn’t take away from celebrating that holy night so
long ago. We know that every good gift
and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,
the North Pole. Soon enough she will be in on the secret just like her older
brothers. Until then, her Christmas is both holy and magical.
Ayantu and Josie, watching and waiting. 2012.

Comforts of Thanksgiving

For most people Thanksgiving means celebrating with family, lots of cooking, and taking time to reflect on what we’re thankful for. In my family it meant that if we were hosting, there was guaranteed to be a few extras at our table. See, my dad always had a soft spot for those who didn’t have a place to go on Thanksgiving. I’d like to say that I felt the same, but sadly, I did not.

I was selfish; there’s not really any other way to put it. I liked being comfortable and comfort meant family. Talking with people I didn’t know very well did not fit into my comfort zone. Fortunately, my dad was more concerned with making others feel like part of a family rather than whether or not I was getting my own way. Every year, with out fail, we went around the table taking turns giving thanks. And every year I felt guilty for having such a crummy attitude regarding the extra guests at the table.

I just so happened to marry a man who is also compassionate, reaching out to welcome those in need of a place to celebrate the holiday. He is like this because he comes from two parents who led by example. Once I joined the family it was guaranteed that there would be extra guests sitting around their table as well. I was finally learning to appreciate and enjoy instead of resist and be a brat.

This year we spent Thanksgiving at my in-laws who so graciously welcomed as many people as we wished to invite. It was our family plus seven others. They set up extra tables and chairs and cooked massive amounts of food, never rolling eyes over adding another guest. It was perfect and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I have much to be thankful for.

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