Last week I had 2 interesting conversations about Christmas.
First up I had 12 year old John in tears, having just found out that Santa wasn't a real person. My heart went out to this young chap in his sparkly Santa hat as he told me how sure he was that a reindeer had walked down his passage last year. He told me that the magic had gone out of Christmas for him since he had discovered that his Mum and Dad bought his gifts and was never going to get over the disappointment. He recalled counting the days to Christmas for as long as he could remember, always leaving a carrot for the reindeers & mince pie for Santa on Christmas Eve.
I told him how I insist on playing Santa in our house, even though my children are adults, and I described the hilarity that ensues each year as I try to sneak the presnts under the tree before anybody wakes up. Eventually he started to reframe the magic of Christmas, deciding that he could still 'pretend' to believe in Santa just for the fun of it.
The second conversation was with 13 year old Michael. I loved the way he solemnly informed me that since he came from a family of atheists, he shouldn't have to wait for Christmas Day to get his new i-Pod. He was making a good case about double standards and such things until his mum suggested that as a family of atheists they should scrap Christmas totally and refrain from any gifts or festivities. Not to be outdone, he was quick to suggest that they could celebrate 'Atheistmas' and that they could do so immediately. Although he didn't realise it, he was caught up in the magic of Christmas as well, anticipating the yummy family feast and Christmas concerts, among other Christmas treats.
Different boys with different stories, but both anticipating displays of warmth, love and generosity from their families. Love it or hate it, Christmas is here to stay. Cynics will attribute its popularity to marketing and commercialism. The optimist in me thinks otherwise. As a migrant to Australia I have missed out on 20 family Christmas celebrations. Like many people, I have found some Christmases to be challenging. However, I have discovered that if you reach out, there is always someone who will make challenging times easier. And so we started the Toner tradition of 'Orphan Christmas', where we share our special day with others who are without family. Consequently, have have had Christmas lunches blessed with Jewish, Muslim, Mormon and Buddhist prayers, and we have strayed from traditional turkey and ham to include halal and vegetarian options. With our fellow 'orphans', we have experienced the Magic of Christmas in so many ways.
My wish for everyone is that you all allow yourselves to experience the magic of Christmas, even in some small way. I am very mindful of the fact that this can be a challenging time for many. If that is the case for you, I hope that you are able to reach out and ask for support. Don't be alone at Christmas.