This Christmas brought with it an ending, and many new beginnings as well. Ever since I was a little girl, I have written a letter to Santa every year on Christmas Eve and placed it on the kitchen table with a plate of cookies and an empty glass for milk. And every Christmas morning, without fail, I would turn the paper over to find a handwritten response from “Santa” (my dad). I’ve continued the tradition on for symbolic purposes, but after a great deal of contemplation, I decided that this will be the last year for the letters to Santa.
I knew that I wanted to send the tradition off with affection, and after searching through family photo albums, found this picture of my father and me from when I was a child:
|Dad and his little girl, 1988.|
Yesterday, I attended two family Christmas gatherings, and in both instances, was the only person present who was not part of a couple (married or in a relationship). I (literally and figuratively) stood outside of my relatives, watching and observing their interactions, and realized deep down that I am different from them, and I always have been. In the past, I thought that my being different meant that I was less, somehow; that I did not deserve to be related to them. But what I now know, through wisdom and experience, is that I can be different from them, and we can still be family.
That is what Christmas is: Finding a place where the people that you love become the true bearers of comfort and joy. All through the day, I could feel the presence of those who have passed on—Grandma, Grandpa, great-Aunt Lollie, and more—and I know that they have also been folded into the fabric of Christmas. The fact that I knew them and loved them is a greater gift than anything inside ribbon and bow-festooned boxes sitting under a tree.
In many ways, a letter to Santa isn’t so much about presents, but having just the briefest moment to have someone listen to what you have to say. I yearned for that as a child, thirsted for it…but now, my cup is nearly overrun. It happened gradually—Christmas by Christmas, in tiny, tiny increments—but the letters have fulfilled their purpose, and though they and Santa will always be in my heart, I am honored to say a quiet, respectful goodbye.
Farewell to one chapter of life. Onward and upward to the next.