When I was a kid we had Santa’s actual telephone number. I didn’t have it, but my mom did. She would call him once a year and we would actually get to talk with the big guy. It was pretty sweet. I mean, I would see him at the mall of course, but he had so many kids to see, he didn’t have time to chit chat. Get in, exchange pleasantries, ask about Mrs. Claus and the Elves, confirm status on the Nice List, and then make requests with specificity but flexibility. Boom – nailed it. Ooh – and remember to check the beard – he keeps switching it up. I mean, it always looks good, but fluffy really makes his eyes pop.
The phone call though – that’s when we could REALLY connect. I like Matchbox cars, but it is important that he knows WHY and WHICH ONES. These are going to be racing each other after all… and wait, has he seen the ramp I use? Because he sees me when I’m sleeping and knows when I’m awake, so maybe, but he also enters the house through the chimney and that is nowhere near the ramp, so maybe not. We’ve got SO MUCH to talk about.
I wasn’t allowed to make long distance phone calls without one of my parent’s permission. I wasn’t sure where the North Pole was, but I knew it wasn’t a local call. That’s why Mom kept the phone number. I probably would have been calling to chat all the time, and I didn’t have enough allowance to cover that — it just made sound financial sense. Also apparently parents have to keep it, it is some rule. I didn’t fully understand that one, but it didn’t seem to matter as much as soon as I got on the phone with Santa.
Years later I found out it was a local call all along. The man whose number my mother had been calling for years, who gleefully spoke on the phone with her 3 children, was in fact… wait for it you guys, this is going to blow your mind… are you ready? I’m not sure you are ready…
MY DAD’S FEMALE SECRETARY!!
WHO WE KIDS KNEW AND SPOKE WITH ON A FAIRLY REGULAR BASIS!
I had Santa’s phone number all along – it turns out “he” shared a line with my Dad, and we knew the office number by heart (I can still recite it to this day).
This is the magic of joy and hope and kindness and belief. All of us entered into this little world where anything was possible and we brought that out in each other. I knew her voice, I could recognize it whenever she called the house, but when we got on the phone together and she was Santa, both of our ways of being changed… we brought out joy and hope and free expression in each other. We uplifted each other and went places we couldn’t go without the other person.
This very kind woman patiently and joyfully talked with her boss’ children year after year, listening to their stories, their hopes, their ramblings. This wasn’t a part of her job, she didn’t need to do this, she was just a wonderful woman with a kind heart and a loving soul. She had an incredibly busy and stressful job, and yet still she found time in her day to make room for joy, hope, kindness, and belief. I talked to Santa – you can’t convince me otherwise. I know it was her, but really who do you think Santa is?
We are all “Santa,” or we can be. Santa is nothing more or less than a kind hearted soul, willing to be present for someone and listen to their hopes, dreams, and random brain droppings as George Carlin might say. Santa is always present, working hard to balance accountability and compassion. Santa makes time for others, but also enjoys taking time for a nice cup of cocoa and a gumdrop. Santa is strong but can’t do everything, Santa asks for help. And at the end of the day Santa actively appreciates the people and animals in his life who make life so rich.
Santa and Christmas are the traditions with which I was raised, and with which I have fond memories. But Santa is only a metaphor or construct that people use. Similar traditions or sentiments exist in other religions/cultures, and no one has exclusive claim to this. How sad would it be if that were the case… that only a portion of the world could access love, compassion, kindness, respect, connection, warmth, and empathy? Even without a holiday to which to tag our “goodwill toward all,” we can embody this sentiment and live out these values year round.
Gratitude and Thanks aren’t “While Supplies Last” items, we don’t have to stockpile them and save them for use only in the last 4-6 weeks of the year. Active appreciation of the little things in life – holding a door, remembering your lunch preference, taking time to say hi – shifts the whole scenario, for all of us. When I started actively appreciating other people and things around me, I noticed that I was happier and the people around me responded more positively to me (probably because I was happier and nicer 🙂 ). It feels good to be appreciated… and it feels good to feel good. It sparks kindness and compassion, both in the giver and the receiver. It also creates connections that help us see things from each other’s perspectives.
It’s funny because throughout my life I think I have been pretty good about appreciating things, but when I struggle with frustration or disappointment it becomes much more difficult. Ironically, that is the time when I need to appreciate things the most. That is when I need that power of gratitude to work its magic. This isn’t to say that I should minimize or not acknowledge my frustration, disappointment, or sadness, just that I need to actively hold space for gratitude as well. I need to tap into Santa and sit there with myself – listening; wishing; dreaming; hoping; sipping a cup of cocoa; asking for help; and then appreciating the humans, animals, and everything else that make life so rich.
Goodwill towards all – self and others. And some Matchbox cars would be nice, if the Elves have some time.