It was two weeks before Christmas and there was still so much to do. As I sat in my car waiting for my daughter’s piano lessons to finish, I took a moment to close my eyes and lay my head back. While resting my eyes, I could hear the sounds of scribbling and erasing coming from the backseat of my car.
Ryan, my 8-year-old son, was working diligently on his wish list for Santa. As Christmas day approached, Ryan’s excitement grew. He loved all the festivities of the holiday season, but his favorite pastime was spending hours studying the JCPenney catalog dreaming about more than just sugarplums. Ryan’s wish list generally included his top 10 favorite toys, along with detailed drawings. For two years running, his top three wishes included a video game, some type of NERF weapon, and Ninja Turtles.
Just as I was enjoying a much-needed catnap, I was jolted awake by the dreaded question.
Ryan must’ve been thinking long and hard about Santa, because out of the blue and without any warning, my son asked, “Mom, do you believe in Santa?” My first thoughts were, “Ugh! Drat! Why did he have to ask me and not his dad?” And although I should’ve been prepared, I was not.
In a state of panic, I sat very quiet for a moment. I distinctly remember thinking, “Whatever you do, keep it short and simple!”
As I peered into my rearview mirror, my son’s big blue eyes looked at me with sincerity and anticipation. And although I wasn’t ready to rip off the Santa Band-Aid and tear away all the innocence, I also knew that my son was looking to me for the truth.
With as much warmth and genuine honesty I could muster, I looked at Ryan and said, “I believe very much in the spirit of Christmas. It is a special time of year when we celebrate baby Jesus and the joy of giving. When we give straight from the heart and believe with all of our might, many wondrous and magical things happen. The coolest part is that the true spirit of Christmas can be celebrated each and every day, not just on December 25th.
As I looked at my son, I was searching for something more to say. I was looking for words that might convey profound wisdom and guidance, but nothing more came. At that moment, I chose to be still and wait for his response. After a few minutes, Ryan smiled up at me with such sweetness and said, “I believe, Mom!” We both smiled and thankfully that was the end of our conversation about Santa.
As I think back, my answer to Ryan’s question was not even close to what he was hoping for and nor was it profound. But it was true of how I felt at the time and still believe today.
I am reminded each and every day that extraordinary and magical things can and do happen when you give with all of your heart. For more than 20 years, I’ve had the extreme privilege to work alongside the most generous people on the planet: volunteers. I continue to be amazed, inspired and blown away by their compassion and dedication. I am grateful to be surrounded by such an incredible team who understand the purest form of giving and who believe with all their might that one singular act of kindness can make a difference.
Many blessings to all this holiday season!
P.S. Like any zany parent trying desperately to keep the magic of Santa alive for just one more year, my husband decided to try a last-ditch effort to ignite some Santa mystery. Yep, he plotted and schemed and came up with a brilliant idea. He strategically placed a small red swatch of material in our fireplace door, right next to my son’s Christmas stocking. It was indeed a magical moment when my son discovered the torn piece of cloth. With eyes as big as saucers and a voice filled with great excitement, he shouted, “Look! I found a piece of Santa’s jacket!”
HO! HO! HO!
– Deanna Robb, Director of Beaumont’s Parenting Program