It was inevitable really. This memory came up for me today.
2013 was a difficult year emotionally for many reasons. My father had been recently diagnosed with cancer. My health had been struggling for the last year and a half, more so than prior years. I had also initiated my second divorce.
This would be the last “Santa” photo taken of my daughters, an annual tradition. My older daughter, the trooper since discovering that I was Santa Claus, still went along with these photos anyway. But this was also the year that my younger daughter began to have her doubts about the man in red.
And that is when it started, the need to “cling on” as hard as I could. You could see how much it meant to her to have that one thing that while so impossible to believe was real, still wanting to give all she could, to believe in the impossible, that maybe things that had been going on around her, though seemingly impossible, might be possible.
Although a baptized Christian, I do enjoy the Santa Claus lore. I like the meaning. And as I had one daughter who no longer believed, and another wanting to, I felt it was time to change, to adapt what the story of Santa Claus was really about, giving. And so, I instilled in both of them, that Santa Claus while in the presence sense may not be real, his spirit definitely is, and it is something we all possess. My daughters learned the importance of the season of giving at that moment. Santa Claus would live on.
Like many households dealing with divorce, another change would come with observing Christmas. The goal still to be as enjoyable for the children. Clearly different than what they had experienced previously when they were younger. For some, it is part of the day with one parent, part of the day with the other. Then there are those who actually split the Christmas holiday week between parents.
But hold on. Then the children turn eighteen, graduate high school, and move away to college, perhaps find a significant other. Another change. And in the world of divorce, time already split to a minimum with either parent, the holidays morph into yet another stage, perhaps not even making it home for the holidays, while your child, the one you have spent every holiday with, informs you that they are going to meet the family of their heart’s interest. This is the stage that I am preparing for next. One daughter near that age, another not far behind.
And peering into my Norman Rockwell crystal ball, eventually, I will be the one making the annual holiday trips to not only see my daughters, but their own families as well.
And who knows, maybe I met get to dust of the red suit once again.