Monday, December 12, 2011

A Skeptical Toddler's Christmas

It’s been a busy holiday season and rather than writing new articles, I’ve posted a couple of “rerun” stories. Here's one of my favorites.

As a child, there was definitely a magical feeling at Christmas time. Of course I looked forward to giving and receiving presents, but there was more to it than that. I think I was too young to analyze it. I just loved the way I felt during this joyous time.

Later, when I became a wife and mother, the magical feeling intensified as I had two daughters and a husband to share the holidays with. One memorable moment was when my daughter, Alicia was 6 years old and her little sister, Brittany was 2 or 3. Alicia had excitedly been chattering away about Santa Claus, reindeer and presents.

Even though Brittany was still in diapers, she had a healthy dose of skepticism. She did not like sitting on Santa Claus’ lap, I sensed she knew his beard was fake, and I think she thought her sister was pulling her leg about the whole Christmas thing. We weren’t poor, but we didn’t have a lot of extra money either. The idea of a bunch of toys under the tree seemed too much of a stretch. Brit knew we couldn’t afford to buy all the things she saw advertised on TV (I used this “can’t afford it” line a lot when they wanted stuff at the store.)

Still, I’m sure, she was hopeful.

Christmas morning I remember waiting in bed for the girls to stir so we could begin our holiday. John and I waited and waited. Why were they so quiet? “How could they wait so long?” I wondered. The truth of the matter was they were awake. Brittany had joined her sister in Alicia’s bedroom and they were waiting for us to get out of bed. They usually weren’t that considerate, but hey, who wants to take a chance of messing up on Christmas morning?

Neither girl had ventured out of the bedroom to peak under the Christmas tree in the living room. The night before there were a couple presents for Grandma and Grandpa and maybe a relative or two, but nothing from Santa Claus. At least not yet. We told the girls it was okay to get up and take a peak.

Alicia was ready for the festivities to begin and she slowly ushered her little sister toward the living room and the Christmas tree. I will never forget this moment. Alicia knew the drill. She knew Santa would come. Brittany, however, was skeptical. She didn’t remember last year’s holiday. She was only a baby. I could just imagine her thought process. “All year long we don’t get any toys except for our birthdays, why would we get a bunch now?”

The girls peaked around the corner and low and behold, beneath the Christmas tree were stacks of toys. Only the night before there were only a couple of presents and they were designated for others.

Brittany’s eyes were filled with amazement and awe. She seemed to be thinking, “Could this possibly be true?” She was filled with the magic of Christmas. Alicia had a more “knowing” quality as she took in the sight. She knew great things happened on Christmas, and now she had a little sister to share the holiday with – even if the little tyke was a bit skeptical.

What the girls did not know is there had been a Santa Claus of sorts. We had enough money for a few presents, but certainly not that many. However, my Aunt Liz and her husband Ernie, had a good year. The childless couple decided to give their struggling nieces and nephews an added bonus, a check for $100. We received it in time to buy extra gifts for the girls, including a few things that we knew our daughters wanted, but we could not afford to give them.

Of course I think the girls would have been happy even without the extra presents. I can safely say this because of who they have become. They are now grown women and are kind, loving and considerate human beings. Alicia is a school teacher, a wife to her husband Greg, and the mother of two children of her own. She still has that “all knowing/wise quality” about her. Brittany works as an interior decorator and is happily married to Jamie. Her children are her two dogs, Smash and Guinness. Brit is still a bit of a skeptic, but that magical moment of Christmas and hope still lives in her heart.

I don’t want to come across as a Pollyanna. I know this has been a difficult year for a lot of folks. However, if there is one thing I’ve learned, is that in spite of the difficulties we face, we must never harden our hearts. Both good things, and bad, will not last forever.

My Christmas message this year is to save a little space in your heart for hope and joy. Things may not always be perfect, but there is always the possibility of a miracle. Especially at Christmas.

Happy Holidays!

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