It shines. Alternating strand after strand. Sinking in and out like a winter firefly. The warm smell of comfort in the home drifts lazily through each room. Unaware that living in a shelter meant you were going through hard times, the little girl awoke each day during December anticipating that Santa was coming and let the countdown begin. Her younger brother, too, felt the magic and excitement that a Christmas tree brought. At the ripe age of 8 years old, the girl was all but naive. But she continued to believe in magic. She felt it in all aspects of her life.
She shared a room with her younger brother, her mother nested on the couch. The space was small, covered in dark wooden walls and filled with borrowed furniture. Each week, a cardboard box of food supplies would be deposited on their front step, along with the other residents of the Eugene Family Shelter. Both girl and boy could not wait to see what the box brought! It was exciting to see the new foods that would be in there, their favorite was cereals and anything fresh provided. The Christmas tree continued to glow each gloomy, rainy morning. Lulling the day along hour by hour.
Within the next year, the family was able to transition to the mother’s Grandmother’s home. The children had no immediate memory of this woman, but were excited for the new warmth she brought. Her home was comfortable, full of her own life’s memories. Delicate momentums littered on every dresser, shelf, and wall space. Christmas was yet again coming full circle, magic tingling like electricity with each waking morning. The girl, now 9, hoped for nothing. Wanted…nothing. Just the pure enjoyment of how being warm and comfortable made her feel complete. To thank their great grandma for letting them stay there, the girl and boy wanted to do something for her for Christmas. A tree glistened with tinsel in the corner of the living room. No presents beneath it, and yet glowing with life, wonder, and hope. They secretly wandered through the house, each picking something that they liked from her shelves. Items that were attractive to them that looked like something a lady would like. They continued to wrap her precious memories in newspaper and place them under the boughs of the tree. The smell of homemade cinnamon rolls distracted them from the gifts and they wandered to the kitchen to visit with the woman. She was forever imprinted on that little girls heart.
He was seven years old and life was full of wonder. He romped through his home, eagerly anticipating the spirit of Christmas morning. His family was warm and strong. Life was good.
With precision the boy placed each window cling in their proper place, assuring that Santa was not without his reindeer and that the snowflakes fell from the sky. On his dresser, twinkled a small Christmas tree decorated to his delight. Anything and everything merry was placed with a pure heart throughout his room. The boy slept, enveloped in pure innocence and magic.
Prayers in heart, the family brought home their tree. With their own fair share of hardship, the family shared a united feeling of empathy from the teeniest bug to the most beautiful farmed Christmas tree. And the boy continued to countdown the days until Christmas morning, where they finally get to place baby Jesus in his bed in the manger on their shelf.
Christmas has come and gone and the new year has begun. His mother calls him for a talk. She sits him down and tries delicately to explain that Santa isn’t real, but in fact it was herself and his father bringing gifts. The boy, now almost 8, leaves the room in tears. The realization that the magic was no longer there. The spirit of Christmas and all it means stays in his heart as he grows, but the innocence of believing in magic is now gone. Everyone finds out at some point that Santa isn’t real. But the magic is always there. It lives in the peace, love, and faith in the good in people. And this man has grown to continue to be true at heart and all things innocent. And his room is still pasted with Christmas decorations each holiday season.
I sit here in my living room thinking about my list of gifts I need to buy, making sure my store has enough product as to not miss out on a gift for the wanting child. Remember, it’s not about the newest XBOX ONE, iPOD, tablet, Barbie, or Cell phone. Let’s try and raise our children past the entitlement attitude and with more empathy for others. Don’t forget the spirit. Merry Christmas and God Bless.