The wonder of Christmas seems to be planted in the heart of every child. The level of excitement and joy a child possesses during the holiday season is unsurpassed. What is at the center of all this childhood enthusiasm? Two words come to mind: Santa. Claus. This jolly old man in a red suit, whose belly shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly and rides on a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer is the visual before the eyes of every child who is trying to hunt for the real Santa. Just like the best hide and seek game ever, children search everywhere to find him. Many sleep with one eye half open on Christmas Eve just to get a glimpse of Santa, popping down the chimney at their home. Long after the big Christmas day, they are pondering questions like, “How did Santa make it down the chimney and up again?” How did Santa and his reindeer make it to every house on Christmas Eve? How did Santa know just what I wanted when I barely told a soul? Those adults who have let the wonder of Christmas which was planted in our heart as a child grow to full maturity, know the answers to those questions. Santa had a little help from his friends. Oh Santa Claus we loved you as a child and ever more as an adult.
On Christmas Eve those of you who are parents may have felt a little like Santa yourself, with your children nestled all snug in their beds, you scurry around, filling stockings, placing presents under the tree and making last minute preparations for Christmas Day. You too may sleep with one eye half opened that night trying with childlike faith to get a glimpse of St. Nick. Santa lives and we can see him everywhere during the holiday season if we are looking.
How can we make this Christmas season the best ever? Christmas comes and goes year after year, so each year I like to improve upon the last. In the past I have bought presents way too many to count, wrapped for hours, baked until my heart was content, and sent out over 500 Christmas cards to my closest friends around the country. I was filled with every bit of the unending Christmas joy of love in action. Two years ago, I made the decision to send out cards after the New Year, when the January slump set in (and during the actual Christmas season in the liturgical calendar); and oh what a relief it was. I no longer bake until I drop; instead I join in with the grandkids for a baking marathon which was more about being together than getting the job done. I wrap presents as I buy them and this has eliminated gift-wrapping mania. I shop with a list which each of my adult children provides. This eliminates both the returns and impromptu buying which is notorious for blowing the Christmas budget faster than you can say, “Merry Christmas.” I must say these changes did not happen overnight, they just evolved. This Christmas after contemplating our life as empty nesters with adult children all over the county we have decided to begin a new Christmas tradition. Knowing that their presence is much more important than presents, we have decided to go on a trip to the mountains together as a family for our gift to all. This trip will become a memory that will live in the hearts of our family members forever. You cannot put a price on that.
What means something to you on Christmas? Are you rush rushing through the shopping, wrapping, baking, and writing cards to just get the thing done or are you living in the Spirit of Christmas? Knowing that we are all uniquely and wonderfully made, each one of us need to take some time to think about what can make Christmas come alive in our hearts this year. This year why not consider gifts from the heart. This alternate choice of gifts may use more of your time and your talent than your debit card. These gifts will take a little more thought but maybe a lot less shopping. You must know the person you are buying for so spend quality time studying them well, and asking the right questions. This can prove to be just the equation for a perfect present. Here are some ideas:
- My dad was an artist, and I have many of his prints. By placing the print in a quality frame; I have blessed many with a personal gift.
- I am a poet. My poems have sometimes been the perfect touch to sport the front of a notecard, which I can have printed at a bargain price. I also have used my dad’s artwork for the note cards.
- Two of my girls have painted art for my home which I displayed with pride along with my dad’s paintings.
- My mom is a caterer so we put together a family cookbook with all family members contributing. It is a keepsake for generations to come.
- One year, a daughter wrote me a letter of thanks for being her mom which I framed and saved forever.
- My son-in-law, with the help of my husband, is making an outdoor play gym for his son’s birthday — complete with a zip line. What a labor of love the fruit of which will be enjoyed by many.
Maybe you do not paint, write poetry, cook or build, but what talent can you bring to wrap under the Christmas tree? Remember, Santa spends a lot of time working in his work shop and spends only one day delivering the toys on his sleigh. If you think about it, doesn’t the love behind the gift mean more than the gift itself? Gifts from the heart are always the right size, not easily duplicated, and never need to be returned. After all, what can you exchange for a present that was made with love? Gifts from the heart are remembered and treasured for life.
Santa lives! I applaud all those fellow Santa’s helpers who embrace the joy, the love, the peace that comes with the Christmas season, no X necessary. As the heart of the home, moms are somehow able to selflessly give to their family, not just at Christmas but all the year through. May we who have let the seed of the wonder of Christmas grow to maturity; pass on the fruit of it to our children. May we teach them how to do the same? Look up in the sky. I think I see Santa getting ready to land on my rooftop. Is it Christmas Eve already? No, but I guess you could say, “Everyday is like Christmas if you know Santa Lives!”