The holiday season officially started on the last Friday of November, when Black Friday shoppers either get trampled on or are part of the herd at Walmart and other retail stores. The long lines turn the calmest people into terrifying lunatics, and crowds under any circumstance bother me, and pushing my way around a packed store over items on sale is absolutely not my way of spending my time.
My daughters are grown up so no trips in search of Santa are needed. Call me crazy but that was one long line that never really bothered me too much. My daughters usually made sure they were picture perfect because they wanted to make a good impression on the jolly ole’ elf and usually got a photo after each recited their gift list. Usually the same questions would be asked by both sides, “Are you the real Santa?” “Have you been good this year?” but the hardest question would be left to me to answer, “Is there really such thing as Santa?” I’m not sure when the “right” time to do the big reveal until it was about a request my oldest daughter requested one year. I was just coming out of a long-term relationship with someone who my oldest still considers her “Dad” and she was heartbroken, as was her sister, but my oldest daughter really just wanted her “family” back together, the way it was. She requested of Santa to make her parents love each other again and live together again. She didn’t want the newest Barbie or the latest Disney movie; she just wanted her family complete again. I was standing near and saw Santa’s eyes meet mine. He gave me a wink and started to get a little misty eyed as he explained to her that she still had her family, her whole family even though Dad no longer lived with her, he would be her Daddy no matter what. He explained that “Mommy and Daddy and not Santa make those kinds of decisions,” and even his Christmas magic had limits.
It hit me that day that my oldest was right on the fence between knowing the truth about Santa. She was slowly starting to grow up and understand the spirit of Santa. She was starting to realize that there wasn’t a fat guy always dressed in red and white at the North Pole who lived with dozens of elves who made toys all year long. My Christmas was changed that year; it happens when your child starts to outgrow Santa Claus, it can seem like an end of a treasured memory that day as we drove home. The lights and decorations were the same, Christmas music was non-stop on the radio but my oldest was no longer singing along. She was quiet and if you know my oldest daughter, her being quiet is a rare event. She instead was looking at the world through new eyes, eyes that understood that Santa was a lesson in belief; understanding about faith, something that wasn’t felt by hands, only by the heart. I finally caught her eyes in my rear-view mirror and knew all was going to be all right when she smiled at me. I then winked back at her in the same misty eye way Santa had given me earlier and then the Eagles song, “Please come home for Christmas” began on the radio and we all joined in singing as we followed our own stars home and at Christmas, all roads lead to home.