By: Shannon Trumbauer
It is 4:30 in the early early morning on December 25th, 1990.
The house is darkened, silent and still – save for the quiet, almost imperceptible shuffle of little feet along the carpet, the occasional giggle and “shushhhhhh.”
Three little faces materialize around the corner of the hallway and peer – with delicious anticipation – into the living room. There is a gasp and a clapping of hands at the sight which befalls them.
The Christmas tree, standing so tall and serene in front of the large bay window, is surrounded by presents, an impossible number of presents. The stockings hung over the chimney are full to the brim with goodies and nearby on the table there is a half-empty glass of milk and a plate of scattered cookie crumbs.
The little girls run happily back to their beds, shaking with excitement for the hour when they can finally leap onto their parents’ bed, squealing and shouting with glee –
“Santa came! Santa came!”
The same joyous cry will be heard throughout all parts of the world this morning, just as it has been heard for hundreds of years, just as it will continue to be heard for hundreds of years to come…
That particular Christmas Day was seventeen years ago.
I was seven years old.
In the years since that morning, my sisters and I have grown older, taller and wiser. We have been laden with the burdens of school and friends and work and bills and the endless sea of responsibility that comes from growing up and entering adulthood…
And still, without fail, as the holiday season approaches, as decorations appear in store fronts and the radio waves are filled with Jingle Bells, as Charlie Brown and Rudolph and Frosty make their annual appearances on our television screens – we once again become those little girls, all wide-eyed and filled with eager anticipation as the season swirls around us in this breathtaking cacophony of lights and sounds and tastes…
…pine trees, stockings full of toys, sugar cookies, bells, annoying commercials, a neighborhood street lined with twinkling lights, nativity scenes, twenty-four hours of A Christmas Story on TBS, the comfort of curling up in front of the fireplace under a warm blanket, mistletoe, carols, lying under the Christmas tree, Poinsettias, finding that perfect gift for a loved one, holiday parties, candy canes…
Peace. Love. Joy.
It is as if something in the holiday air, some wonderfully marvelous mixture of peppermint and gingerbread and hot chocolate, wipes away all those years – all those reasons that make it so hard to just believe in magic and Santa Claus and his eight flying reindeer. It is easy again. Uncomplicated. Simple.
Of course the world is filled with magic. It’s waiting to surprise us at every corner. Sneaking up on us and tapping us on the shoulder and prompting us
into joyous bursts of laughter and childlike astonishment.
And of course. Of course there is a Santa Claus.
There always will be. There always has been.
I never ever want to lose the possibilities of this belief, my overwhelming love of Christmas, the excitement that comes at seeing those first signs of the season.
And I hope, I pray, that everyone this season – no matter your beliefs, no matter the holiday which you celebrate, whether you are seven or seventy-six – that you find something to believe in this holiday season, something to once again fill you with innocent wonder.
So, in parting, I have a confession to make.
Promise you won’t laugh?
Okay, here it is – I’m twenty-four years old and I still lie awake on Christmas Eve Night and listen – hope for that distinct sound of sleigh bells up on the rooftop.
And here’s the real crazy part – sometimes I’ll hear something off in the distance, the faint ringing of a bell and my heart will leap and maybe… maybe… maybe…
“Santa came! Santa came!”