So Christmas has come and gone and hopefully Santa Claus made everyone happy.
This is only the second Christmas I’ve ever celebrated and I am beginning to rather like Christmas.
To me it is a little ironic that I only celebrate Christmas now that I am apathetic towards religion, while all my prior 19 years in a Christian environment and going to church, celebrating Christmas (like normal people do) was not allowed.
Although my family was Christian, we never celebrated Christmas in any way, shape, or form. No lights, no tree, no decorations, no Christmas insinuations, and most significantly – no gifts. The 25th of December was just another day to us.
I was always told that the reason we didn’t celebrate Christmas was because we were supposed to “celebrate Jesus’ birth in our hearts every day of the year and by the way we lived”. But that was hardly a sufficient reason for my childish mind because I wanted to celebrate the baby in the manger with a new truck, book, or game – something tangible and enjoyable.
According to my parents and their religion, “Christmas had its roots as a pagan holiday, and had also become a time for gifts and frivolities where Jesus was either briefly mentioned as part of a ritual or program but then immediately put aside so that the partying could begin”. My reasoning where I used the Three Wise Men and their gifts was shot down with the retort that those gifts were given to Jesus and you’re not Jesus – a rather irrefutable statement for a 6 year-old.
I’ve always wondered what it would have been like to have believed in Santa Claus and celebrated Christmas during my childhood years.
To have had that unabashed faith in the jolly red-suited man and his magical reindeer to make my childish wishes become a reality every Christmas morning. It sometimes feels as if I lost a part of a “proper childhood” by never believing in Santa Claus, experiencing the amazing anticipation every Christmas Eve, or dashing madly to the tree on Christmas morning to find my gifts.
On the other hand, since I never believed, I also never experienced the stunning crash of learning that it was all a fable.
But I will admit that as a youngster I felt a little smug when hearing other children talk about Santa Claus and Christmas, because I was privy to the “classified information” that it was all a hoax. Growing up, it was amusing to me to watch their parents threaten them with coal in their stockings for any infraction of the rules. But my smugness and amusement quickly evaporated when I realized that the “hoax” got them gifts while my “knowledge” simply left me out in the cold.
But that was life for me, and we all know life isn’t fair.
Now that I am an adult, I sometimes wonder how I’ll explain Christmas and Santa Claus to my own children.
I think that I’ll let them enjoy what I missed and learn to love the merry old man. I want to see the anticipation on their faces as they go to bed every Christmas Eve and then listen to their joyous shouts while they find and open their gifts on Christmas morning.
To me it almost seems as if it is every child’s right to believe in Santa Claus for the first few years, so I hope the joy of their brief belief in Santa Claus will outweigh the disappointment of learning he doesn’t really exist.
But for right now, Christmas is just a traditional holiday for me where I give gifts to the people I love and spend time with family and close friends. Christmas is the time where I pause in my mad dash through life to acknowledge and appreciate the wonderful people in my life.
And what better way to do that than to get together, exchange gifts, and simply enjoy their company.