Christmas: A Family Affair

Christmas Day at my niece’s house was full of laughter and fun and even talk of Santa’s early morning visit.

This was the most representative picture I got of the family because Anna and her husband live on ten acres and people were spread out in the three family areas and shooting BB guns outside. Most of the children and young adults are boys. The ratio is 8 Boys to 2 girls and one of the little girls wasn’t there. So it was boys’ day by a mile.

The women tended to gather in the kitchen prepping the food while the boys and men basically ruled the roost. That’s just how it seems to work out. Anna’s husband Terrence likes to barbecue so he was in charge of the animal protein. He and Anna were exhausted though because both of their kids still believe in Santa and were up all night waiting for him.

Ryder (11) and Jess Jo (8) spent the day before making a special stand where they left their gift-wish lists along with some homemade cookies and milk. Their Santa stand was carefully positioned right by the fireplace, of course. Where else? The Santa Claus stories are deeply ingrained in us. For me, and probably all the other adults without young children, it was De’ja Vu.

Christmas lists for Santa.

Anna and I talked about this turning point in their lives because she didn’t want anyone to burst the kids’ bubble. She is concerned about preserving their sense of innocence and possibility. Anna has home-schooled up until this year so her kids haven’t been exposed to the anti-fantasy thinking of mainstream school kids. So hers is (was and probably always will be) a good question. How DO you keep a sense of magic and wonder alive? Not just for the kids who must inevitably grow up but for our longer lives in the “real” world.

I shared the theory that had been shared with me. Santa could be a shaman. He’s a real guy alright and he Does live in a place (another dimension I was told) that no-one ever goes to except in the movies. The idea being that when people stop believing in Santa (like Tinkerbell and the land fairies) they no longer have the ability to see and experience the magical realms. This doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Walt Disney knew how desperately we need a sense of magic in our lives. The theme parks make exponentially more money than Disney movies.

I asked Ryder what his experience had been on Christmas Eve. He, like me when I was his age, was determined to catch a glimpse of Santa. Ryder admits he didn’t see Santa with his own eyes but he did hear Santa’s sleigh and reindeer on the roof. Bingo! Exactly as I had one Christmas years ago on a snowy Christmas Eve night. I firmly believe Ryder had an experience that’s very important to him.

One of the youngest kids, Max (7), was listening with rapt attention. Ryder said one of his buddies DID see Santa early Christmas morning. Max quickly chimed in that he heard Santa on the roof at his house too. Later on Max blurted out the question that, being newly baptized, was on his sweet mind. Is Santa Claus God? None of the other adults said anything so, being the resident storyteller, I said “Oh, no. God is much bigger than Santa.” Max nodded in agreement and the spirit world was put to bed.

There was lots of time to talk about all things family. Health matters, upcoming trips and business plans. Towards the end of the day after almost all the guests were gone, Anna and I sat out on the covered patio and talked about my late mother. She was so happy to hear stories she’d never heard before about my fun-loving and gregarious mom. They are treasured memories that I was only too happy to share.

Christmas may be different things to different people but it’s always a family affair. I hope you had a wonderful time with your family too. Sending you love and light wherever you are tonight.

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