“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”
-Hamilton Wright Mabie
Dear Santa Claus,
I just thought I’d send my list and tell you I’m back in the snow this year for Christmas. You’ve found me on the beaches in Mexico for most of the past decade and you’ve never disappointed; you’ve delivered the best of gifts—spectacular Christmas Eve sunsets, dolphins on Christmas day at ocean’s edge, delicious Mexican feasts, and magical festivals.
You’ve watched me go from being a true Christmas traditionalist with a home full of seasonal paraphernalia to someone who can barely manage to throw a wreath on the door before she heads south for a very non-white (both snow and cultural) Christmas.
You are a wonderful symbol of what Christmas is touted as: the season of joy with loved ones and an abundance of gifts, food, and merriment. But for many of us, Christmas is the time of year that triggers uncomfortable emotions. We are surrounded by hype and the buzz of manic shoppers and parties at every turn. We feel we’ve fallen short of something because we don’t quite have the seasonal spirit we should have.
When I was married (far away, long ago, and hard to believe), my husband and I found great pleasure in creating our own little private traditions. We knew Christmas had begun when one of us would play The Christmas Guest and we’d see who could hold out the longest without crying.
Our home was immaculate (both kept it that way) and scented with the aroma of new, scrumptious recipes I was always creating. Ever the Sagittarian party girl, the house would fill with guests and laughter.
We watched It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) each year and cried again. Do you remember finding us under the tree with the lights twinkling on Christmas Eves snuggled together under a duvet awaiting your arrival? The traditions of Christmas, for me, were linked with spending it romantically with a loving partner. Now, so many moons later, living a very single life, Christmas is a sore reminder of going it alone for an exceedingly long time.
Santa, you may wonder why a girl brought up in the snowy prairies with a bunch of folksy farm relatives would opt for a non-white Christmas, but my forays to Mexico over the holiday season are a bountiful and beautiful cure for the Christmas blues I am prone to. Here, there are so many reminders of what’s missing, there, a feeling of complete and natural abundance, no matter my circumstances.
Christmas is quickly followed by the New Year and what we hope will be a new beginning of some sort. In a reflective mood, I watched It’s a Wonderful Life again this year. This time it had a powerful personal meaning for me.
I don’t know if you’ve seen it Santa, but George Bailey is a man who lives his life enthusiastically, in spite of numerous disappointments and downfalls, and is true to his principles. He has clearly defined values and even in the midst of strife when the town’s evil tycoon, Potter, tries to seduce him into a sweet deal with the devil, he holds strong.
In a twist of fate, he finds himself on the brink of financial ruin on Christmas Eve. He buckles from the immense pressure and is uncharacteristically cruel to his family when he comes home that night. He ends up in Martini’s bar, drinking heavily and in tears he prays despondently, on the edge of complete despair.
Like George, I’ve seen years of significant challenges and difficult hurdles with a seeming failure to launch. Remaining true to my values in the face of tribulations has been no easy feat. Now, in spite of my best efforts, I find myself in another ‘Hard Candy Christmas.’ In a city fuelled by prosperity and the glitz of the good life, I am reminded daily of my deficits—by Canadian societal standards.
In the movie, George is sent an angel to remind him of how much he has accomplished in his life and to show him that his bitter wish that he’d never been born at all would have been detrimental to many people. Had he never been born, his little piece of the world would have been quite different.
I’ve had many George Bailey moments this year. My trust has wavered and my fears have run amok. Nevertheless, I am an optimist at heart and somewhere deep inside me, I know that I am not wrong in my pursuit of a purposeful life. I can’t be. One cannot remain passionate and persevere this long in a drought without good reason.
I’ve not been sent a heavenly angel to remind me but, Santa, my gifts have not escaped me and I do wish to thank you with all of my heart for the army of earth angels you’ve sent to assist me on my path this year.
Through my struggles to create a new life and a new career after cancer, and to find my place, I’ve been given coaches, teachers, mentors, spiritual counsel, new like-minded artist friends, and Obi, my wise woman acupuncturist and her delightful partner. I’ve received help from my patient family and kind gifts from friends. I’ve been thrilled to get comments and letters from people who have been inspired and entertained by my writing. I’ve been granted small, surprising miracles to help me squeak by. And I’ve been sent many signs to tell me that no matter the current conditions, I am on track.
You are the epitome of magic (a chubby guy who can maneuver his way up and down tight chimneys and flies around on a sleigh lead by reindeer), manna (you carry and deliver a bag of a billion gifts), and miracles (you inspire compassion and uncommon generosity around the world during the season).
This year the gift that I ask for myself, I ask for all. As you dash through the skies with Dancer and Prancer, and of course, Rudolph, may I ask that you sprinkle seeds of self-love on each and every household? I know I could use more to keep me going and I think we all could use an extra measure of it. The gift of self-love is one that generates a crop of all the love we need: self-forgiveness, love for the earth, love of all beings, and love of others.
And like the Reba song I used to sing in my married, country girl days—a song about a letter you wrote one Christmas Eve—I too make this wish for a world worried about its fate:
I want peace on earth for Christmas
In a world where there’s not one hungry child
A day when hope and faith
Conquers fear and hate
All I’m asking for is a little more love
P.S. Santa … I love your sense of humor. After I wrote this post at the café and went home, I had to do a triple take. There you were, at the end of my street, strolling around the bend with a bag in hand. A Santa sighting right after writing my letter to you! George got his angel, I got you. If that’s not a serendipitous sign, I don’t know what is.
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