With the holiday season upon us, I can't help but reminisce about my childhood and all the favorites of the Christmas season.
Beyond the great food and family gatherings, I am reminded of other memories. Like being the first one of the four of us kids in my home to make it downstairs on Christmas morning to see what Santa had brought. Or the time my dad and mom took to decorate our home. There was Christmas Eve service at our church, being allowed to open one present from a sibling of mine on Christmas Eve and more.
As I grow older and now have traditions to share with my girls from decorating to TV shows like Frosty and Rudolph, I am finally realizing what my dad went through to find things we had asked for. Whether it was a particular sweater my sister wanted or the latest and coolest G.I. Joe toy for me, it all worked out.
With the season upon us, we have to remember the family element that seems to have gotten lost among iPads, Black Friday and so many other things.
Christmas no doubt is a retailer’s paradise. Opening doors at 8 .m. on Thanksgiving night takes away from the idea of spending time with the family on Thanksgiving and sharing why we are thankful with those we love the most. Being thankful is getting lost now in the retail world. My older daughter asked me why people had to work on Thanksgiving and I had no answer.
I did have the answer to another question she asked me recently: Is Santa real?
A neighbor decided to tell my oldest that Santa isn't real. My first thought was anger, followed by sadness. How dare someone tell an eight-year-old kid this? I reassured my older daughter Abby that Santa is indeed real. She was asking question after question.
It was familiar territory for me. When I was about age 8, a neighborhood kid took it upon himself to tell me that Santa did not exist. My father and mom were very upset. Dad had words with the kid’s dad. What made it worse was that my dad worked with this guy daily.
This time, I had an answer. As a church-going family, I talked to her about it in a way she could understand. Did she believe in God and Jesus? Why yes, daddy, was her response. I asked if she had seen them. She said no. I said well, there you have it. Just because you don’t see something, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
Crushing hopes and dreams of a little child, especially about something so dear and innocent in the world, makes no sense to me.
So as we enter the holiday season, remember what the season is for. A time to be thankful, to remember the ultimate gift that was given to us - Jesus - and that yes, there is a Santa Claus. For without our dreams, hopes and imagination, what else do we have and what else can we share with our kids?
Mike Slawter is the father of two girls in Raleigh. He has been on his stay at home daddy adventure now for nearly a year. You can follow him on his blog. Find him here monthly.