I know it’s January 5th. And I know you tend to get most of your mail in December. And typically, it all comes from those in the 0-8 age range. But here’s the thing… none of my kids wrote to you this year, so I feel the need to bridge that gap. They’re 16, 13, 12, and 10 now, Santa, and they don’t believe in you anymore.
Don’t be upset! It probably sounds a bit harsh to hear that someone doesn’t believe in you. It’s hard enough to believe in yourself, to persevere, to continue down the path you were destined to traverse. But when others start doubting? It’s brutal. I know. I’m a writer, after all.
But I digress.
We had a unique Christmas this year, St. Nick. It was the first time in our lives that we celebrated solely as a family unit of six. No extended family, no fancy holiday parties, just us. We didn’t go back to Indiana this season, and it felt a bit off-kilter. It rained here on Christmas day. It rained a lot. I told the kids it was “warm snowing,” but they didn’t buy it. They’ve become such cynics in their old age.
We prepared food like we were hosting a holiday party of epic proportions, but we ate most of it ourselves. (Don’t worry, SC, Chris and I started South Beach again today, so we’re righting all our holiday wrongs. Stretchy pants only stretch so much.) We enjoyed a Mexican feast on December 26th with Starkville friends and drank ourselves silly on December 27th with another beloved Mississippi family. Interestingly enough, we ate Mexican there, too. I’m sensing a margarita-based theme.
For New Year’s Eve, we didn’t don black velvet and bow ties and party till we dropped. Instead, we traveled to Jacksonville to watch MSU play Northwestern in the Gator Bowl. We met up with some Zionsville friends for a lovely dinner, and then we drove back to our hotel. We stopped at a gas station on the way to buy ice cream and cheap red wine. When midnight hit, we were still in the car. We sang and yelled and Mary Claire flipped chocolate ice cream on George’s head. There were fireworks in the distance, the kids were all wearing shorts, palm trees swayed in the balmy breeze, and it was strange and unfamiliar and perfect all rolled into one.
So, why am I writing to tell you this? Because I still believe in you. Because I know that whether or not you ride around in your red suit and deliver presents on the 24th is beside the point. George will argue till his face turns purple that it’s scientifically impossible. He was Starkville Science Club’s “Scientist of the Year” last year, you know. And he really likes to debate. Especially with Gus. But I know — and I think my kids know — that sometimes you just have to believe in things you can’t see.
Love, friendship, peace, serenity, God… we can’t see any of those things, and yet, there they are. Always. They’re in Indiana, in Mississippi, in Jacksonville. They fill our hearts and warm our souls if we take the time to acknowledge and honor and share them.
Here’s a funny little insight for you, Santa. Our 16-year-old has never uttered the words, “I don’t believe in Santa Claus.” Perhaps it’s because we always told him, “If you don’t believe, you don’t receive.” He might very well be ensuring the continued delivery of his ridiculously expensive Christmas day golf clubs and the all-important, uninterrupted XBox Live access, but I think it’s something more. I think he Gets It. I think he understands that the spirit of the holiday manifests itself in our family, our friends, the ones we love most.
I wrote this letter to say thank you, Santa. Thanks for being there even when I feared you might not be. Thanks for a season filled with grace and laughter and abundance. And rain. Even rain. Yes, I missed my family and friends in Indiana. Sure, there was a bit of FOMO. And that snow? Oh, what I wouldn’t have given to wallow in that snow! But we were here and we were together and we were loved and gave love in return. That’s pretty special.
I just wanted you to know.
P.S. While I’m thinking about it, I’d like to plant a bug in your ear for 2013. Size 8 jeans that actually fit? And a checkbook with a few more zeros at the ends of the numbers instead of the beginnings? Pretty please? Thanks, Big Guy.