Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Taming My Inner Grinch
I usually don’t do a holiday post. What to say that hasn't already been said? Especially Christmas. Every year, I struggle with my cynicism born from consumer over-exposure. I think we’ve all thought it at one point or another while shopping after Halloween and seeing the green and red decorations up for sale. Already? Can I make it through Thanksgiving first?
The holidays with my family in Florida were always very low key, possibly influenced by the fact we had no snow. Some years, it wasn’t even that cold. What I appreciated is that we did what we could, gave what we could, without any pressure born of expectation. In fact, the only thing I expected was a good meal and that my mom delivered. Yum. Being Brazilian, she made the traditional black beans and rice dish. Sigh. In fact, I almost prided myself on having a family that celebrated in a non-traditional manner. Sure, we opened presents on Christmas morning, but that’s about it. After my stint in the Peace Corps in the Ivory Coast, I became more discouraged over just how much we have in our country when many children around the world have so little. Christmas began to represent those excesses to me, and I lost some of the joy of the holiday until I had my son.
Last Christmas Eve, when he was four, we watched Polar Express. (The animation is so weird, almost creepy, but it's a nice story) When Santa showed up and taught the boy how to hear the bell ringing, to believe in Christmas again, my son turned to me and asked: Is Santa coming? I want to meet Santa. He didn’t ask because he was worried about getting a present, he wanted to meet the symbol of Christmas. About a week ago, a year older and wiser, he asked me if Santa was real. That got my inner debate team in a tizzy. I didn’t feel comfortable out right lying, but I wasn’t about to crush his childhood so I told him Santa was real. (My husband insists every year on giving him a gift from Santa.) I could tell it meant a lot, to believe in Santa. He painstakingly wrote out a Christmas wish list that included Transformers, a Teddy Bear, and cars. Just those three things, and we mailed it to Santa at the North Pole. He was so excited, and some of that cynicism melted away.
I thank my son for returning some of that holiday mystery and joy. Last year, we gave him cookies and milk, which he placed next to the fireplace. After he fell asleep, we ate the cookies and milk, making sure to leave crumbs on the plate and a ring of milk in the glass. And that was the first thing he thought of when he woke up. He wanted to see if Santa had eaten the cookies and drunk the milk. And so did I. Can't wait to eat some more cookies on Christmas Eve :) and see his look of wonder the next day.
Have a wonderful holiday and new year!