you have to believe to receive

For as long as I can remember, I have understood and celebrated the true meaning of Christmas. But even as a little girl, I noticed how Santa seemed to upstage the baby Jesus. The Son of God born of a virgin in a manger… a miracle I never doubted. But ol’ St. Nick had a Hollywood type of charm, and by Christmas Eve, he had stolen the show.

My dad would ratchet up my excitement, pointing to the red glow in the sky (which was probably pollution). “Hey, Angie, look! There’s Santa Clause! He’s coming.” How did this magical fat man fit all the toys for every boy and girl in the entire world in his sleigh and deliver them in one night? I was awestruck and amazed.

At bedtime, I’d crawl under the covers and lay frozen until dawn. Mom said if Santa caught me peeking, he’d take my toys away. She never told me not to move, but still, I barely breathed.

At the first light of day, I’d dash down the hall and shriek, “He came! He came!” I’d survey my toys and then run into my parent’s room. “Dad, you’ll never guess what Santa brought! A Barbie house, a record player…”

“No way. I don’t believe it,” he answered in a sleepy voice, playing along. Of course, I had no idea Santa had stayed up a little too late, having a few Christmas cocktails.  I was a bona fide believer.

When bigger kids told me Santa wasn’t real, my faith wasn’t shaken. “Do you think my parents could afford to buy me a bike, a Brooke Shields Fashion Face, AND a My Pretty Pony? I don’t think so!”

Then one year, the magic went away. I walked in the garage on Christmas evening and saw empty boxes that had previously held my toys. If my toys came from Santa’s workshop, what’s with all the boxes? I asked my mom about it, and the look on her face said everything. Santa’s cover was blown.

From that year on, my parents thought Christmas was Totally Boring. And it was my fault for no longer believing in Santa Clause. I continued to torture my mom as my husband and I dated for five years before getting married, and then waited another five to have kids.

Now, finally. Santa’s back. Christmas is fun again. I’m already rehearsing my speech the day my oldest son discovers it’s all a big sham and ruins it for his younger brother. I will remind them of the true meaning of Christmas. I will share the history of Kris Kringle and how believing in Santa is just a fun way to keep the spirit and magic of the Christmas season alive.

Then, it will be my turn to start counting the days until I get some grandchildren.