When I was little the idea of Santa Claus gave me permission to dream beyond my means and reality. It didn’t matter what was happening in my life, the realities of budgets or whether he would deliver. When I made my list and handed it to my Nana, “Santa’s Helper” as she referred to herself, there was an exciting passage of a few weeks when it seemed that anything was possible.
When Christmas came I was so happy that he showed up at all! Wow! Santa Claus actually came to my Nana’s house! Not down a chimney, mind you. Nana lived in an apartment with a terrace which was a perfect landing spot for him. He would ring the doorbells for those without outside access, obviously. I was so impressed with his ability to work out all those logistics!
At age six I approached my Nana in early December and had a knowing smirk on my face. “Nana, Santa Claus doesn’t really come here, does he? It’s you, isn’t it?” She smiled and looked a bit defeated and said with a bittersweet delivery that I was right. But I wasn’t sad. I loved my Nana and it didn’t matter if Santa wore a red suit or the latest from Bloomingdale’s. I never told her I didn’t believe in him, because I still did and do.
During my worst years as a teenager I was very jaded, cynical and deeply sad. Every December I witnessed adults conspiring together to keep the idea of Santa Claus alive for all of the little believers. The building I lived in gave me view into windows of hundreds of other apartments. Many lives from my vantage seemed forlorn and sparsely decorated inside other than the black and white glow of a TV set (this was the late 1970s) until the Christmas season. Come Christmastime, trees and blinking window lights sprinkled my view with hope. It didn’t matter that some of the string lights were hung with masking tape and flashed like Vegas. All it took was a light snowfall to transform the outside of my window into a Section 8 style Currier & Ives. Spiritual elegance!
I know now that it was God speaking through all of those people, his helpers, and God that allowed me to witness the beauty. It was my belief in Santa Claus that made it easy to feel and believe the same way I did at my Nana’s house before I had it all figured out. I always believed in God but I knew he couldn’t bring me toys and cool clothes because there were so many more important things I and millions of others needed but didn’t have. If God could, he would.
When I pray to God, then and now, I do not ask for anything material. I pray for strength, patience, peace and guidance among things. I pray a lot! It has been decades since I permitted myself to ask Santa for things I want and to believe that if I ask, I might receive. That’s because I do not treat God like Santa Claus. I do not believe in “prosperity gospel.” It’s the asking and being open to the magic of possibility that is the real gift, and both God and Santa Claus can deliver that! It’s just that I won’t ask God to give me those non-essential tangibles. Santa? Those are straight from his workshop, and the more you ask of him, the greater his job security!
I had a wonderful time putting my fountain pen to paper and made a list. It was so much fun!! When I was done I placed it in an envelope under the tree. I then had to reopen it and include a P.S. I think I’m done for now, but as for writing a letter to Santa, I want to continue the tradition year after year!