My parents taught my brother and me that there was no such thing as Santa Claus. We were forbidden from disclosing this truth to my cousins at the insistence of my aunt and grandmother, who feared this ray of truth would melt their illusions like a snowflake on a December Texas morning.
I believe there is only one photo of us with the jolly old man, who our dear neighbors hired to visit us at home one day.
As I grew older, I espoused my parents’ views on Santa, and I was ever grateful they taught me he was not real. So it is funny that, as a woman in her thirties, I found myself wishing that he were.
I believe my enchantment began when I watched “The Polar Express” with my daughter. That day, with the soft jingle of a bell, the wonder of a magical man bearing all my wishes and dreams entered my heart.
Perhaps it was the warmth of the lights shining in the darkness like an animated Thomas Kinkade painting or the silver bell whose jingle only believers could hear. It may have even been Santa’s resemblance to another man I have only imagined, yet not seen – God – for he is kind, omniscient and the giver of all good things.
I marked the occasion as any good Texan would – I bought a James Avery Santa charm and a jingle bell charm for my Christmas bracelet. I also bought the jingle bell pendant to wear around my neck.
My heart now understands why people speak of a mysterious man dressed in crimson and white, who leaves gifts in his wake as he moves through the dark. They look to the skies on Christmas Eve, where silver bells glisten and Rudolph’s red nose twinkles in the night.
I have even considered writing Santa. Such a letter would reveal my wishes and dreams – not to Santa – but to me.
How I love the holiday season, adorned with wonder and light. I previously likened these times to a ride on a roller coaster, but today, I imagine it as a ride in Santa’s sleigh:
Oh! My favorite time of year! Spices dance in the air rushing past my face. I inhale the scent and memories of holidays past rise in response, like tides heeding the call of the moon. The sleigh dips and curves and I hold on tight to each moment before it passes into the hands of Memory, whose gaze I meet when I look back at the path that I have traveled. I squeal with delight as the holidays draw near. The lights of Christmas sparkle and glisten and the coming year gleams, all shiny and new. Santa bids me farewell as morning draws near, and hands me a sack holding all that I seek. I thank him and open the bag of wishes, and I dance with my dreams as they swirl in the light.
Stacy Parent is a lifelong resident of Baytown.