As a child, my life was filled with magical things.
My mom is a very theatrical lady so as expected she made the most of her talents by making each special occasion one of enchantment. Our Easter egg hunts were to die for, our Halloweens were spooktacular; she even went as far as to set out little pots of gold on our front door step for my brother and me on St. Patty’s Day.
So with all of this wonder during any given holiday, I’m sure you can imagine that Christmas was no different.
To this day, I still get giddy when walking into my Mom’s home and finding her decorations have been set out in their perfect fashion. Each trinket telling a story of our life that now seems so long ago. Every piece of Christmas paraphernalia just seems so natural, so ordinary, so … just like home.
Mom also really enjoyed talking up Ol’ Saint Nick when we were youngsters. She told us all about his workshop in the North Pole, the elves and Rudolf, too.
Christmas Eve we would always try to stay busy — baking cookies for Santa’s arrival was a must! We would sing carols in the front room of our doublewide (thankfully it was located in the middle of nowhere so nobody was subjected to our off-tune singing) and lastly my Mom would recite The Night before Christmas to us. This was always what I looked forward to most. Her mannerisms when performing the poem were amazing, and my brother and I would be captivated through the entire narration.
Finally it would be time to sleep.
To be clear, there would be no sleeping … or very little, that is.
My kid brother and I would camp out in my room, desperately listening for hoofs upon our tin roof.
Every now and then, Mom would pop her head in and let us know that the newscaster on the TV just reported that Santa was in Hong Kong, Australia … the United States! These updates made it even harder to get to sleep. And the rest is history.
We would wake from a groggy two-and-a-half-hour snooze to find our stockings were full and an unwrapped present from Santa was propped against the tree waiting to be claimed.
It just felt so real. Never in my younger years did I doubt that a jolly fat man flew around the world delivering presents to every child on the Nice List. It was simply the way it was.
I believed so much that it wasn’t until I was 11 that I got the news broken to me.
It was a balmy June day. Why the topic of Santa had come up, I’m not quite sure. Christmas should have been the last thing on our minds so close to summer vacation. I cried my way home on the bus that day, but as hard as my younger brother Dustin tried to ask me what was wrong, I would not tell him. I couldn’t be the bearer of that sort of awful news.
But like all kids, I got over the initial shock of losing Santa — a friend I had known for as long as I could remember.
However, unlike many, I still had an inkling in the back of my mind. It was as though I just could not bring myself to not believe.
But because children want to be accepted and yearn for the approval of their peers, these thoughts were kept just for me. Like a magnificent secret that only I knew about.
As each Christmas passed, the thought of Santa Claus stayed firm in my mind. I never truly let him go.
Today at 28 years old, I still have not let him go. And around this time of year, I am filled with a feeling of hope and rejuvenation. I love watching as my children are given the allowance to feel this as well.
It was never about the presents when we were young. We were never showered in gifts aplenty.
But sure as the angel atop my Christmas tree, that gift from Santa that we asked for would always be there waiting for us.
Maybe I don’t believe in a physical Santa Claus anymore, because time and age have jaded me.
But I do believe in the magic. I believe in the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of St. Nicholas, and the beautiful feeling this time of year can bring when it is stripped down to its origin.
On that balmy June day, when my 11-year-old world had just been ripped apart, my unparalleled Mother said these words to me: “Lindsay, you can believe in anything you want to believe in. The spirit of Christmas will always be in your heart, and that is what Santa Claus truly is.”
That day, my Mom gave me the greatest Christmas present I could have ever asked for without even knowing it.
Thank you, Mom, for always allowing us to believe.
Lindsay Brown is a Sylvan Lake mother of two and freelance columnist.