This was our daughter’s fifth Christmas. She’s in kindergarten this year and loving it. She’s always been a precocious child and so has really taken to it all. The holidays are always a bit unusual around here. My wife was not raised Christian. She was American-born to Taiwanese parents. As such, we’ve had a lot of back and forth conversations about what to do about the “Santa thing.” It wasn’t really a part of her tradition, but I have a lot of fun Santa memories growing up. We’ve settled on neither confirming nor denying St. Nick, but I was all for the opportunity to bake chocolate chip cookies with her on Christmas Eve.
Toll House recipe of course. We’re not barbarians.
And you know what, she believes. In spite of whatever mixed signals we send at home, she believes. Even if not that it’s literal truth, she thirsts for the lore. For the magic. Really, what else is there to Santa but the power of willing oneself to believe?
I didn’t want to write about the Newton, Connecticut shooting. I really didn’t. The fact of the matter is, it hasn’t left my mind for too long ever since it happened. It’s not like I think about it all the time, but it’s a creeping thought that pops into my brain when I least want it. When it seems furthest away. As the parent of an elementary school student, I can’t think of anything more horrifying.
So, this Christmas, I held our daughter a little tighter. I went out of the way to show her we love her. And we made the best damn chocolate chip cookies ever baked. We gave our gifts and I made sure to tell her the true story of the real-life St. Nicholas who inspired all of our giving (though I left out the fist-fight at the Council of Nicea). Then I made sure to make up a few more stories.
When we awoke on Christmas morning, my wife and I even discovered our daughter smuggled in a special surprise under the tree. It was a secret present. Just for us.
That’s right. A pink box filled with seven q-tips.
She glanced into it over my shoulder. “Hmph…” she said. “I thought there were more…”
And so, happy holidays, reader! May you have a prosperous New Year and want for nothing more than the love of family and half a dozen q-tips.