“Do you remember me, I sat upon your knee. I wrote to you with childhood fantasies. Well, I’m all grown up now and still need help somehow. I’m not a child but my heart still can dream…. So here’s my lifelong wish, my grown-up Christmas list…. What is this illusion called the innocence of youth? Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth.” —David Foster and Linda Thompson
It’s time to let the blame lie where it should. When it comes to my love of the holiday season, it’s obvious whose fault it is.
I blame my parents for encouraging me to write letters to Santa, wrapping tempting gifts and filling me with a sense of “What’s in the boxes!”
I blame them for helping me look for Rudolph’s light in the sky on the way home from Midnight mass, where we sang “Silent Night” by candlelight.
It’s their fault I hang old and homemade ornaments along with the news ones on the tree.
I blame them when I crave chocolate in ridiculous amounts and feel a little let down if I don’t see chocolate stars somewhere between the peanut butter balls and pound cake.
It’s their fault, right? After all, my childhood taught me every single year that Christmas as a whole was the sum of these parts.
Remember the tickets punched on the movie “The Polar Express”? Learn. Lead. Rely On. Count On. Believe. My Christmas memories can best be described as the entire magical concept of that movie. But especially the word believe. What a beautiful, significant and adaptable word.
I know my kids won’t have the exact experiences and memories as mine, but I’m trying. For example, the Charlie Brown and Rudolph Christmas specials have never been as special to them as they were (and still are) to me.
I’ll be honest, it ticks me off. How can something so momentous not resonate with them in the same way? The first time my daughter questioned the scariness of the Bumble in “Rudolph” I was speechless. How dare she? He’s terrifying.
Then again, I may take myself and my experiences a little too seriously. I can be protective of my memories. They’re deep inside of me, like love or vital internal organs, which I also kind of need.
More than anything, I want my kids—as adults with some years to back them up—to one day be able to say “I get it.”
In the middle of the chaos and overanalyzing that will no doubt still be happening of this special time of year, I want them to know, without a doubt, as I do, that they never have to feel guilty for believing in any of it.
Sometimes I still write letters to Santa, usually just in my head. This year, it’s time for one in ink on paper. (Bear with me on the opener, it doesn’t seem right to start without a pleasantry.)
* * *
How are you? How are Mrs. Claus and Rudolph?
I have been listening to a lot of Christmas music this year. It’s become easier to be particular now, you know, with Spotify and YouTube.
I searched for the song “My Grown Up Christmas List.” It resonated with me this year. My Christmas lists are always evolving, and while I wouldn’t turn down warm pajama pants or a Fredrick Bachman novel, I have a few other things to ask for. These will require delayed delivery, but I’m willing to wait.
I want, one day, for my daughters to help their children search for Rudolph’s light in the sky. I want them all to sing “Silent Night” by candle light. I want them to hang old and worn ornaments along with one brand new one every single year. I want them to crave chocolate in ridiculous amounts, including, but not limited to, a handful of chocolate stars. Just for fun, I also would like the Bumble to make an appearance now and again.
Oh, and if it’s not too much trouble, I want them to blame me for it one day.
This column originally ran in December 2013.