(Santa and I at Wheeler Farm)
As you may or may not know, I now work for Santa. Not only that, I'm an assistant manager for Santa! (quick promotion amirite?) Every weekday morning I see him coming out of the mall with security escort and toward our little cottage area, and every weekday morning I get to greet him with a big cheery "Good morning, Santa!" I know it might seem silly but I feel so privileged when I say those words. What kid doesn't want to meet Santa, to thank him for all he does and ask him about the North Pole all day long?
I've gotten some flack lately for believing in Santa, from both friends and a co-worker. WHO BY THE WAY SHOULDN'T NOT BELIEVE IN SANTA SINCE HE WORKS FOR SANTA. I'M TALKING TO YOU BEN. In Sweden, it seems to be common and accepted for kids to grow up knowing that Santa is Mom and Dad or whoever, and both atheists and Christians alike have accused my belief in Santa of being hypocritical, as I'm strictly opposed to any religion.
To me, the idea of Santa has nothing to do with religion. I wish I could properly explain just how much this idea really does mean to me, but it's one of those things you can't put in words. Little kids will see him through the doorway, they'll scream, "HE'S REAL!" and some of them will bolt to the door and hug him fiercely, just as they'd hug a family member. Seeing the unbridled joy and innocence from so many kids and adults every day is just part of what makes Santa so great. I also admire the parents who come in, encourage their children to tell Santa thank you for all the hard work he does, how much the parents admire this hardworking gift-giver. They take no credit for their work, it's all Santa.
And I grew up believing that Santa lived in a castle at the North Pole, that he was hundreds and hundreds of years old...that he was in fact just a very generous wizard who happened to love the best part of humanity; charity. Giving without needing thanks, giving in fact at night when everyone was asleep and no one could disturb his work. Instead of breaking into your house to TAKE stuff, Santa breaks in to GIVE. Is that not the epitome of kindness? Not only that, but he loves cookies...and he has reindeer, one of my favorite animals. It's just a formula for a beautiful, warm feeling.
I don't know what made my parents turn from depressing hillbillies into slightly less depressing hillbillies right around Christmas time. Our Christmas celebrations were something to behold. From my dad shooting down mistletoe with a rifle, to sneaking out into the forest at night to chop down our Christmas tree, to the antique German Christmas ornaments my mother hoarded like Gollum over the Precious....everything was just wonderful. We had cards from tons of family and friends taped up over our entryway door. Tinsel and a gorgeous wooden Nativity scene was prominently displayed on our piano. And every year Dad would sit quietly and play his Gibson while Mom, Ariel, and I decorated the tree in near-silence.
We drove around at night and looked at Christmas-lights on houses. We sang carols. We climbed to the top of a mountain to view one of our local parks', Fields of the Wood, light display at night. We drank egg nog and made sausage balls and shrimp dip and lemon pie and everything was just wonderful and beautiful. Sometimes it even snowed, enough snow to give the ugly shack we lived in a really cozy 'cabin' feeling, and it looked like maybe we were normal and functioning in whatever way we were capable of. And it was all in anticipation of that big night, the night Santa came and our stockings were bursting with presents the next morning. Despite the disappointment and heartaches that followed every Christmas morning, it was worth it to feel loved and noticed and taken care of, those few short weeks in December.
I believe in Santa because he reminds me of happy and simple times, because he reminds us all to give selflessly and keep others in mind, and because he is a magical figure who lives in a castle surrounded by the Northern Lights and flying reindeer.
Here is the Santa (and his wife Mrs. Claus) that I work for. The second photo was our test picture we took this morning when the camera wasn't working. Well, it worked on this pic!