I’m 40 years old and I still believe in Santa Claus. Okay, maybe not the jolly man in a red suit who flies in a sleigh led by 8 magic reindeer (or is it 9…do we count Rudolph?), but I 100% believe in what Santa Claus represents. He represents kindness, innocence, hope, and wonder – all things seemingly in short supply in today’s world. Some call Santa Claus the world’s greatest lie. After all, it is the one time in life we not only fib to our children, we do so in an overarching way that continues the falsehood for many years during their early development, only to later reveal the ‘truth’ to them. Why do we do this? Why would parents willfully pull the wool over their children’s eyes when it comes to Christmas?
We do it because the magic of Christmas is real.
When I think of Christmas, in addition to the obvious religious connection, I think of a kinder and simpler time when people are actually nice to one another. Whether it’s someone saying ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Merry Christmas’, you’ll see more smiles this time of year than any other. Sure, you may also see more empty bank accounts, more injured backs from shoveling, and more calories being consumed than you ever thought humanly possible, but I’m a glass is half full of egg nog sort of guy.
At least for me, I see beautiful Christmas lights everywhere. I’ve always been a sucker for multi-colored lights, and decorated homes are the one thing I love about the fact it gets dark every day at 2 PM. On the radio, I hear radio stations playing only one genre of music 24 hours a day for two months because let’s face it – if you’re a singer, you have a Christmas album. If you happen to see an odd 40-yr old man singing ‘Frosty the Snowman’ in his car at the top of his lungs, it’s me. Sorry I was out of tune.
I see local theaters in the holiday spirit, too! Productions of A Christmas Carol, Elf The Musical, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and many more shows are well underway, entertaining audiences in the greater Milwaukee area and beyond. My wife, Sarah, and I love giving our kids ‘experiences’ versus gifts whenever possible, and just had the pleasure of seeing Elf The Musical at the Todd Wehr theater in Milwaukee. Fantastic show – highly recommend it. My favorite part of the show was where a woman playing a TV reporter proclaimed ‘Everyone knows Santa Claus isn’t real’ and a small child in the audience screamed back ‘Yes he is!!!’ The moment got a hearty laugh from the audience, but more importantly it warmed my heart that this little girl believed wholeheartedly in Santa and wouldn’t hear anything to the contrary. We should all be so lucky.
I see television bursting at the seams with all things Christmas. Holiday specials such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus Comes to Town, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and literally dozens more can be found all over the airwaves. And let’s not forget about Hallmark, who has figured out that telling a story about a big city woman looking to find her roots in smalltown America and meeting the man of her dreams can be told a thousand slightly different, yet spectacular ways. Another of my family’s favorites is a short series called The Great Christmas Light Fight, where judges go around to various parts of the US to determine the most outstanding Christmas light displays. Some of them are truly jaw dropping. Even Clark W. Griswold would be impressed.
Speaking of Clark W. Griswold, does anything beat a Christmas movie? I think not! Once Halloween ends, I gather all my Christmas DVD’s and they’re all fair game as of Nov 1. Watching Home Alone 1 and 2 for the hundredth time – no problem. Watching a chick flick like Love Actually – bring it on. Going old school with Miracle on 34th Street in black and white – fantastic. Life gets so bogged down with stresses of money, jobs, drama over silly stuff, etc, escaping for a couple hours and watching Tim Allen grow a white beard two seconds after he shaved it off is a great option. There’s an old school movie from Disney called One Magic Christmas which I still believe has the most realistic depiction of Santa Claus and of the North Pole. It’s a must watch for our family.
Now, you’re probably reading this thinking I’m basically Buddy the Elf on steroids, but on most days smiling is not my favorite. I’m quite the introvert, not great at small talk, dislike crowds big and small, and spend as much time worrying about life as I do enjoying it. Maybe that’s why I’m so enamored with the magic of Christmas. It’s 30-60 days of pure joy. The holiday season is a necessary escape back to childhood, where my only responsibility was to make my bed, brush my teeth, and get dressed.
And while I still don’t love crowds, which the Christmas season is certainly full of, I positively love giving gifts. If that means shopping in a packed store for hours to save a few bucks and make someone’s day on Christmas morn, so be it. If it means fighting a fellow shopper over the last Hickory Honey Ham, so be it. If it means taking my kids to a Christmas parade so they can see Santa, count me in. I will do anything to see my wife and kids have smiling faces during the holiday season.
We all remember that moment in A Christmas Story when Ralphie thinks his final gift has been opened and he didn’t get the Red Ryder BB Gun, when suddenly his dad notices one last present sticking out. Of course, it’s the gift Ralphie has been dreaming of, and that moment when his impossibly blue eyes light up is something every parent wishes to achieve.
For my family, this Christmas is sure to have a moment of that caliber (BB gun…caliber…see what I did there?). My oldest daughter (age 12) has been attempting to save her own money for quite some time to buy a TV for her room. While I’m not crazy about this concept, she’s a really good kid that works hard in school and has been infinitely helpful with her newborn brother (age 5 months). Bottom line is she deserves a TV in her room, and if we paid an allowance or paid her to babysit, she would certainly have enough cash to buy one on her own.
A couple weeks ago I found myself in Wal-Mart buying a 43” Samsung Smart TV for my daughter. Even bought a wall mount, too. Heck, I don’t even have a Smart TV and she’s going to have one. But I don’t care. The money is irrelevant. The future fights about screen time and bed time are irrelevant. I just want that Ralphie moment when she sees a huge, TV-shaped box all wrapped up. I want the jaw dropped, the huge smile, the huge hug, even the rush to grab her phone to Snapchat her friends.
That is what Christmas is all about, and that is why I still believe in Santa Claus. The magic he represents comes out at this time of year more than any other, and I can only hope my children continue to believe well into their 40’s and beyond. Santa Claus may be the world’s greatest lie, but if teaching faith in something you can’t see is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
Merry Christmas, everyone. God Bless. – Jake Appleton, guest blogger
Hi guys! I’m Jake Appleton, hubby to The Lake Country Mom contributor Sarah Appleton. I am a 40 year old father of three (girls age 12, 10 and a 6-mo old baby boy). Writing/blogging has always been one of my interests although my wife is by far the more dedicated (and more talented) writer in our family. My blog posts don’t have a common theme. Whenever something in life catches my fancy, I’ll write about it. As we look to raise our young son and soon to be two teenage daughters, there will likely be other occasions I feel the need to tell our story via the written word. Thanks for reading.