Christmas-Short on Cash, NOT Spirit

It’s the Christmas holiday and I am celebrating my birthday too.

Having a calm morning to celebrate with I found myself wanting to communicate something my parents helped me to realize and I bring it with me throughout my life. The economy is rough right now, people are scrambling to put food on the table, pay doctor bills, take care of kids, look for jobs to replace the ones they lost and there is no money for Christmas.

Broke and frustrated with their options, they forget to replace store bought with the act of kindness and time.   These simple acts of kindness are overlooked for the slick ads we are bombarded with in the media at Christmas time and throughout the year.  There was once a time when a trip to the park was a gift if you went with someone you loved. We spent a lot of time at the park when I was growing up. My folks helped me realize that with endings bring new beginnings.  Time is a gift.  Dying men will give their fortunes for more of it.  Spend yours wisely.

Celebrations are about people and relationships, not who got the most presents. Life, love, inspiration, helping each other, and holding hands are what memories are made of. Can you remember how excited you were to make a clay cast of your hand for your folks-when you were in kindergarten? My beloved mother and father are now passed on, but those clay casts were in her attic in a box marked, “Special.” That would be 34 years after my brother and I made them for her. She had delicately wrapped them in tissue and carefully placed them in a corner where they would be safe from harm.

What dad and mom taught me was that rule about hope and success. It goes like this, “If at first you don’t succeed, . . .try, try again.” Think about this sentence – A person who sees hope in failure surely finds success. So I would say to you if you find yourself in this situation, to look for inspiration wherever you can find it, and celebrate the season however you can.  In a way that is meaningful to you.

I am borrowing a famous letter for this post. It was written in 1897 by an eight year old girl named Virginia O’Hanlon and published in the New York Sun in September, of that year. This letter and Editor’s reply is special to me because it has this exact message in it that my parents taught me and it is from such a profound writer – an 8-year-old little girl – that I still remain touched when I read it every year at this time. Here it is:

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.

“Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

“Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’

“Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

“VIRGINIA O’HANLON.

“115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.”

Newsman Francis Pharcellus Church wrote The Sun’s response to Virginia:

“VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

So I would encourage you to keep your options open, see your glass as half full and have a Merry Christmas with the gifts you already have.

You have each other.

Believe.