Good morning everyone and happy Saturday once again! At this time next week, many Pagans will be celebrating the rebirth of the sun, perhaps incorporating the Hoo-Hoo! Hee-Hee! Push! Push! Push! laboring techniques into their rituals. And of course, tearing into presents is always awesome, especially for children. We adults, anything we want, we can buy it anytime throughout the year, whether we have the cash or can save up for it. At least that’s how I see it. So, because of that, Yuletide/Giftmas just isn’t as special as it is for children. For them, it’s about sending out a wish list to a benevolent, jolly, magical elf who flies around the world via special reindeer and delivering toys to good children. Just about everyone I know did the Santa thing when they were little, and the wonders of it all is a feeling I wish I hadn’t lost.
I know exactly when I stopped believing in Santa – at least as a physical being living in the North Pole. I was seven, my brother was six, and that year, Santa missed our apartment. I knew Santa knows everything, so I didn’t buy the bs story he didn’t have our new address – especially because the year before, we had lived in several places, crashing at one friend’s house to another, and Santa found us then. So that morning, when we woke up and our tree had no presents beneath it, my heart sank, but I didn’t cry. Instead, I tore open the trunk we kept the ornaments and leftover wrapping and tissue paper, and my brother and I wrapped each others toys and gave them to each other. Christmas was not going to be canceled on my watch, damn it!
This is what Jimmy gave me: His Mighty Mo fire truck. It was the best toy evah!
Even when we were 15 and 14 living with our dad, and he said Christmas was canceled that year, I wouldn’t let that happen. It just seemed wrong to even say such a thing. Since I was working, I bought about a dozen packages of cards and a ton of miniature candy canes. I was very popular in that high school, for that year, so I gave out cards with candy canes attached to anyone who was even remotely pleasant to me. It was a big shift from previous years in school, going from not having a single friend at all throughout grade school, then to having friends my first year of high school (but most of them didn’t attend the same school – if they went to school at all), to having what seemed like a million friends. So the way I saw it, the fact I had lots of friends was presents enough, and I was going to pass it along.
But imagine the scene: You had me, a total 80s Metal chick, wearing a leather jacket and kutte vest over it, with big, bleach-blonde, Kelly Bundy hair, tight jeans, a flannel shirt wrapped around my waist, a tight concert shirt with the tummy and cleavage cut out (barely held together, in fact) and my Chuck Taylors, handing out a couple hundred cards and candy canes to supposed thugs and nice kids alike, and teachers, too, in a tough, Chicago public high school. Oh, and I did the same after school at my favorite hang-out – a big mall where my other gazillion Metal friends were at.
This is pretty much what we did, concert or not. I’m… I should be ashamed, but I’m not. Haha.
And that’s where I find myself today. While I don’t believe there is a physical, benevolent, jolly, magical elf who flies around the world via special reindeer and delivering toys to good children, I do believe there are benevolent, jolly, magical people in the world who do good deeds for others without wanting for themselves, hoping to see the recipients happy. (Of course, I’d never tell a little kid that.) These people I’m talking about, they come in all shapes and sizes and come from from vastly different backgrounds and beliefs (or lack thereof). That’s what’s so special about the holiday spirit, if you ask me. You can be yourself, and give of yourself, and that judginess that’s so prevalent throughout the rest of the year seems to just go away – for a little while. Well, mostly, anyway.
Time Magazine, whether you deem them to still be relevant or not, named the Pope as their Person of the Year, and I have to agree with their choice. I may have given up on Catholicism back when I was a kid and just went through the motions for a few years, but this man really does seem to envelop the spirit of what I found a good Catholic to be when I was little. Maybe part of why even many Atheists like him is in contrast to the last guy who quit, but I’d like to think it has a lot more to do with the fact he walks the walk. We need more everyday people like him – one of whom we said our joyful good byes to this week.
But neither Pope Francis and Nelson Mandela, to me at least, still don’t hold a candle to the greatest person to ever walk among us: Fred Rogers. If you ever wanted to believe in a benevolent, jolly, magical person whom everyone, everyone, truly loved, Mr. Rogers was it. I don’t care who you are, you liked Mr. Rogers. If you tell me different, I’d call you a liar, because I don’t believe those words can be used together in a sentence. He was everyone’s real life Santa Claus, and the world is a sadder place without him.
But the thing is, we can all be him, and we don’t even have to wear the sweater, nor do we need to wear the Santa suit. In fact, to contradict Megyn Kelly from earlier this week, we can even be Santa if we’re black or women. How? By giving the good that is within of yourself without expecting anything in return. (There’s nothing wrong with hoping for a thank you or even a smile, but just don’t expect it.) When I give gifts, I go out of my way to try to make sure what I give is something the recipient truly wants, to the best of my abilities. If it’s a charity, I give money if it’s what they ask for, but my preferred charities are ones where they ask for items or time. It’s why my favorite charity is Toys for Tots. Not only do I get to play Santa, but as a recipient of their generosity, it’s my way of giving back. Because of Toys for Tots, my younger brothers did not ever have to go through the experience of Santa missing their apartments, and they were able to cling to the notion that there is a benevolent, jolly, magical elf who flies around the world via special reindeer and delivering toys to good children just a little while longer. They filled that role when our parents couldn’t, or even when I couldn’t.
So this week, if you feel charities like the Salvation Army or Goodwill are not doing the most good, but you still want to ensure the neediest people will experience a pleasant holiday, you can always opt to donate an unwrapped toy. The Marines who put this together even visit some families’ homes and give the toys to the children in person, getting to be Santa while in their uniforms. And, as their website states, “97% of your donation goes to our mission of providing toys, books and other gifts to less fortunate children. The 3% spent on support principally covers fundraising expenses – not one donated dollar goes to pay for salaries or any other manpower costs.”
Well, that’s all I have for this week. I’ll be back next Saturday to wish you all a wonderful, Blessed Yuletide and a very Merry Christmas. Take care, and many blessings to you and yours.