Old school Santa

There’s plenty to savor in the old-fashioned charms of a quiet small-town Christmas.

I lay my head against the sand, my ear to the sky, my hands to the wind. And guess what? I can feel the Christmas spirit!

Ah yes, it’s my imagination of course, but I don’t care. I want it to be like this, at this time of year. It’s the Christmas mood. And I know, the Peninsula is not covered in a natural sort of Christmas way, but I think we can take care of that. I go down to the beach, I sit against a log, I can see snow falling from the sky, snow piling up in drifts, snow covering the tops of trees. (I’m thinking of those things because I want so very much to see them). Treetop branches droop under the weight of the snow; snowflakes turn my fingers pink.)

What a wonderful time of year! Whether you celebrate Jesus or your beliefs center on another spirit of the season, or your family’s focus is also on Santa or Santa alone (I reflect but make no judgment here), the world is alive with magical feelings. I’ve frosted the windows in my home; I’ve placed the tree in front of the picture window and turned on the lights. How special! Presents are piled high on every side, decorations of all kinds: a miniature Santa on his little sleigh, stars and twinkling lights and angels and pretty Christmas balls all around. The front yard has a snowman with a carrot nose and a corncob pipe; it’s all done in a festive and very happy style.

Well okay, it’s not; my house is like every other house in town. But Christmas lives on today with Christmas in the past. I remember special things to eat and lots of secrets being whispered about and special things to say and lots of thank you’s and hugs all around. I remember every year a present straight from Santa, a big package of batteries for use with all the toys. I remember phone calls from uncles and cousins and grandmas and grandpas (back then you had to keep your long distance calls short).

I remember a wall where Mamma hung all our Christmas cards. I remember another wall with all our stockings (we didn’t have a fireplace, we had a woodstove). I remember the Christmas projects we made in school and the mystery cards from people who forgot to sign their names.

I remember one of us got a Christmas present better than all the rest, and pretending we were happy for the person who received it, even if we weren’t. I remember the Christmas present way in the back that nobody noticed for a week. I remember my Poppa getting a big meaty bone for the dog who took it behind the couch and growled at anyone who came near. I remember turning on the television and watching parades and parties, and later on at night watching the Christmas services from different places around the world.

Every Christmas was pretty much like that. They were each a little different, each one felt custom made.

So now my parents are gone, my wife’s parents are gone; I’ve lost all my relatives except for a brother near Seattle and a daughter in Southern California. We get our phone calls every year, which is still nice and properly appropriate. We watch the television (like always). And we both get a little something for each other. (And our Christmas dinner is simple and easy to chew). Outside is usually rainy and dreary, nothing at all like the sparkle of an old time Christmas morning.

So I don’t know how else to explain it. I still maintain that Christmas spirit from the old days. But now it’s quieter, and I don’t know why but it seems softer, gentler, and more meaningful to a man and a woman who can almost count the number of Christmases we have left to share. And I guess the one thing that has stayed with us is the love that comes with the season, not in a loud and merry way, but a grateful kind of love. Thank you, Jesus (and thank you too Santa Claus!), for that perfect time of yesterday and the long and thoughtful days we share today. And if I have to imagine those signature signs of the season (the way I do today), then that’s okay too. Because Christmas time is a time of peace and remembrance, of Mom and Dad and ribbons and presents. There is that spirit of Christmas that we hold on to, of peace and patience and being thankful.

Goodnight and joy be to you all. Merry Christmas.

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