Reveling in Santa

We are sold from birth the story of Santa Claus, his elves and his transcontinental, midnight journey, despite the absurdity and the improbability of this seasonal legend. Eventually, all children reach the age, as I myself did, when the impossibilities of Santa outweigh the naive, wide-eyed childhood faith and the mesmerizing fairy tale is laid to rest alongside all other shattered adolescent ideals.

Since the mysticism of Santa was stripped from my Christmas traditions, skepticism within me has been growing. Although I acknowledge that the jolly red elf of Clement Moore's capricious poem has never existed outside the realm of fantasy, I argue why can we not, as mature beings, be enraptured once a year by an enchanting and completely fabricated myth?

Christmas comes just once a year, bringing up the end of what seems to be a trend of increasingly bleak years, and most of us in society escape one last month into a world of decor, seasonal music, dulcet warmth extending beyond the heater and sweetly magnified cordiality between strangers. Yet in this December world, Santa still is not believed in outside the shopping mall and the pages of tenderly worn picture books.

Where is the folly in indulging, just once a year, in whimsical, delirious childhood make-believe? The world is crumbling around us, and Santa cannot save us. But if for one month, or even just one night, he can capture the attention, the anticipation and the beautiful, unrestrained and determined faith of a child, why not let him? Why not let Santa carry us away on his reindeer-driven sleigh?

I know I will never see him, I know he will never exist, but I will never resist the seduction of the childhood thrill that comes, waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve.



Let's come together

Merry Christmas! At this time of year, I say that phrase more times than I could ever count. I've never quite been able to figure out why someone would ever be offended by hearing it, or by seeing it displayed at a store, particularly a store that sells Christmas items. Let's examine the phrase, shall we? "Merry": Merriam Webster defines it as "full of gaiety or high spirits"; "Merry suggests cheerful, joyous, uninhibited enjoyment of frolic or festivity." "Christmas": A celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. So, if someone says "Merry Christmas" to you, they are basically stating that they are filled with joy because someone was born, and they would like you to share in that joy. It doesn't mean, "I'm a Christian and you're not, so go to ..."

Many people who celebrate Christmas also celebrate the season by giving to those less fortunate. Many also try to perpetuate "peace and goodwill to all." Not sure where the offensiveness is.

At this time of year, people of different religions celebrate different holidays. Let's look at Hanukkah: It is a "celebration commemorating the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem after its defilement by Antiochus of Syria." Hardly something I personally would be offended by.

Now for Eid: "During the month of Ramadan, Muslims observe a strict fast and participate in pious activities such as charitable giving and peace-making. At the end of Ramadan, Muslims throughout the world observe a joyous three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking)." Hmmm ... charitable giving and peace-making? Again, not something I find particularly offensive.

My point is this: We are constantly being bombarded with slogans like, "Celebrate diversity!" However, it is difficult to celebrate something no one can talk about without fear of being labeled offensive.

Abraham Lincoln (quoting Jesus) said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Instead of being divided against one another, let's take this opportunity to come together as One Nation with multiple viewpoints and share in one another's joys and celebrations.

Next time someone says, "Merry Christmas!," try responding with whatever holiday greeting applies for you. Or, maybe, just try a simple, "Thank you."



Memories made

I am 60 years old.

The first Christmas I remember, I was two. Dad and my older brothers were at church. Mom was pregnant, and awash with morning sickness. I pulled the tree over on myself. Dad righted it when they got home. I don't suffer from "Post-tree-on-me syndrome." But, I do have flashbacks:

I was sick on two Christmases. Spent the day happily in my bed reading. One year, "The Wizard of Oz." One year, "The Swiss Family Robinson."

We always got a book for Christmas. And a nightgown or pajamas. A doll or a game. Learn. Be cozy. Imagine.

One year, I got a spray bottle of Heaven Scent perfume. Applied it liberally. Sorry.

Every year, my godparents gave me a dress, and a matching one to my younger sister. They were lovely, and my sister got to wear them for a year or two longer than I did.

Mom worked with her mother, grandmother of 26, on the gifts for all the grandchildren. Grandma made gifts for the girls. Doll clothes. I still have them. Tiny, pink rosebuds on cotton or flannel. I have no idea what she did for the boys.

Dad was a businessman, and there were gifts from his vendors.

Chocolates. Never had them otherwise.

We were careful with the wrapping paper when we opened our gifts. Mom saved it in a box, and I can still see her fingers smoothing it and wrapping gifts the next year. Seeing the old wrap was a part of the tradition.

I remember my sister and I playing with the figures from the nativity scene, and with two girlish angels we called Lulu and Linda. And that we would lay on the carpet under the tree and look up at the lights and the shining ornaments.

I remember the voices of my aunts, uncles, grandparents.

Christmas. A time to come to our senses. Enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches. A time to be home, making the ordinary special. Giving our children more memories than we know.

MARY MCFetridge

New Hope