The Magic of Santa

Sunday, December 14, 2014

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The Magic of Santa
And the time I stopped believing.

I was sick.

Really sick. Like can’t-leave-my-room-or-move-from-my-bed-or-even-change-the-channel, trashcan-by-the-bed sick. It was awful.

It was the first time I was going to miss Christmas on my dad’s side of the family. We celebrated every year at my grandparents' house on Christmas Eve. We ate, laughed, sang Christmas carols, and then exchanged gifts. My dad’s side was the loud side, the fun side, the side I really, truly looked forward to.

But I couldn’t go.

I was stuck in bed all day, horribly sick. However, when I was feeling better (and had stopped vomiting every five minutes), I convinced my mother to take me to my grandparents' house. 

"Just for five minutes," I begged.

I stayed long enough to open my presents, and then my family quickly left. We didn’t want to get anyone else sick.

But it was too late for that.

The whole family would wind up getting sick that night, including my parents. My father described their night as them taking turns crawling to the toilet from the floor of the closet where they were trying to wrap presents.

Santa was slacking that night.

When my siblings and I woke in the morning, despite feeling awful from twenty-four hours of sickness, we rushed to the tree to see what Santa brought. But there was nothing there.

No presents under the tree. No stockings stuffed with candy or even coal.

“We were so bad Santa just skipped us!” I said.

“Santa doesn’t love us! Santa hates us!” my sister cried.

My father, hearing our distressed cries, managed to find the strength to come talk to us. He told us Santa didn’t skip us, and he doesn’t hate us.

“Santa isn’t real,” he said. “But his spirit is.”

He told us about a man named Kris Kringle who brought presents to orphans on Christmas Eve by sliding down their chimneys. The spirit of Santa lived on in his honor. 

“Then who brings us presents?” I asked.

“Well, your mother and I do,” he said. “That’s why you don’t have any presents right now. Your mother and I were very sick last night, and we couldn’t wrap everything.”

At first I didn’t believe him. My parents had taken the Santa magic to an extreme. We made reindeer food ( a combination of oats and glitter) every year that we sprinkled on our lawn. It was always gone in the morning. Every last bit.

And then there was the year a pile of snow was left by our fireplace with a bootprint stuck in it.

And who ate the cookies? Because if Santa wasn’t real, that meant my parents were eating cookies past bedtime, and that just wasn’t fair.

But it was true.

Santa hadn’t existed for centuries. Only his spirit had. There was no North Pole. No little green elves. Nothing except my parents and a wish-turned-shopping list.

It was disappointing. Probably one of the worst Christmases in my memory bank. 

However, while my belief in Santa had been shattered, the magic of the Santa Spirit stayed behind. Giving became a passion of mine. I loved finding the perfect gift, seeing the light of happiness on the faces of my loved ones, a little bit of Santa magic manifested with my own hands, heart, and head.

That year I learned I don’t need little green men to construct the perfect present nor do I need a jolly old man to deliver it. 

All the magic I need I can make myself.

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