I swear I heard you on the roof one year, clomping around in those heavy boots. It surprised me you made as much noise as you did, that you hadn’t figured out how to tip toe, carry your weight like a ballerina. But then of course I was listening for you, anxiously holding my eyes open. I was nervous too, knowing I wasn’t supposed to hear, knowing my mom and dad said you wouldn’t land until I was asleep. What could I do? Staring at the ceiling. A child torn between wonder and responsibility.
What’s the cutoff for asking you for things? I’ll be thirty in June. I need rain boots because every time I take the kids to the park in the rain my feet get wet and cold, so my toes turn that deathly translucent. If they’re stylish, it would be a bonus. Between you and me, I really want someone to detail my car because it’s filthy with crumbs and receipts, books with torn pages, single baby socks, pine straw, dried clay and a fifty pens. When I climb in it makes me feel ashamed! One more thing I can’t keep up with. If I wake up to a detailed car on Christmas I’ll be really impressed, but don’t worry, it’s not a make-or-break. I understand you’re on a tight schedule.
Some people don’t believe you exist. I can understand that. Some people believe you camp out in the chilly arctic all year in a candied-Swiss-Alps kind of village. I can also understand that. I’ve never seen you so I have no idea, but isn’t it faith to believe when we can’t see? When it seems like an impossibility you could really be what they all say you are?
I’m grown now, and the subject of my belief has changed. As I get older I cherish the things I’ve learned believing in you. You’ve taught me a lot about love, that the glory of life is in friendship, and that there is a great treasure in knowing and being known. It always felt like you knew me, saw me, dropped in on Christmas Eve with joy in your heart because you were proud of me, enchanted by me.
You’ve also taught me about having hope for the whole world, for every boy and girl who become every man and woman. I’m sure glad you love each one, that there are minutes enough on Christmas Eve to visit the home of all the children. You don’t forget a single one, and your gifts are sometimes so precious they can’t even be seen, like magic dust.
I have to tell you, now that I have these babies entrusted to me, passing on the wonder of Christmas feels like a very large responsibility. I’m afraid of messing it up. But then I think it wasn’t very long ago that I was a child, and maybe the line between child and not is a little hazy with no actual division. Perhaps we’re all dappled on a long spectrum of childhood, and you’re still charmed with each of us even when we’re old and have gnarly toes and gray hairs at our temples. I hope it’s true, because I still need to be visited on Christmas Eve, to wake up the morning after and feel the faint presence of you, smell that lingering scent of hay and winter air, that you came and peeked in on me, smiled at me, touched my forehead. Delighted in me, and left a little something under the tree with my name.
Besides rain boots and a clean car, would you please bring me a little extra magic this year? Just some Christmas magic in the raw. Would you wrap it up for me and leave it where I can’t miss it? I do believe and experience intense joy, and I cling to the memories of my childhood, but sometimes everything feels hard and tiresome and painful, and it seems like so many hearts are breaking. I come face to face with my inadequacy, and I want everything to be just perfect, but it’s not. And it can’t be. I feel the heaviness in my neck and want to hang my head and walk over to the camp of the unbelieving.
A little magic, please, so I don’t.
Have I ever said thank you? For existing, for returning again and again, Christmas after Christmas, day after day, minute after minute, to me. I’m certainly glad you are the way you are, you do the way you do.
Merry Christmas to you, too. After all, you’ve always wished it to me.