I am poring over that great American tradition, still strong in 1972, the Sears Christmas Wish Book. I am looking at toys that will never come. Toys I will never have.
It is a distinct memory. I am sitting in the bathroom of the old windy, drafty farmhouse in a forgotten valley in a lost part of the world. It is the only room with heat, save for the big pot-belly stove that dominated the living room.
Christmas had come for all my friends and when I got back from the school break, they would brag and share things from Santa, who never came to my house.
I knew Santa only existed if you believed. My family didn’t, but I hoped if I believed hard enough, Santa would come anyway. He never did. It wasn’t the first time I was disappointed at the gap between my family’s religious beliefs and holidays (there is another story of an eight-year-old, tears, and Valentine’s Day).
I know, for some, not celebrating Christmas, or any other holiday is a point of pious pride. I had no Christmas until I was nineteen years old. It was many years of Santa skipping my house, not that I would have been on his nice list.
That child, in that bathroom, had little philosophical thought about the birth of Christ. That little kid didn’t know if he was good or bad, because nobody around him believed.
Granted, I was thinking in purely material ways. Belief meant toys in my mind. When no toys came, it was easy not to believe.
I don’t know if my brothers and sisters felt the same. It was a secret I kept to myself, lest my family discover that I wasn’t as dutiful as them.
I knew nothing of the Christmas spirit or Holiday cheer. I didn’t know of goodwill for my neighbor. I wasn’t taught to believe. I tried anyway.
Today, I have no wish book. I need none. What I have are family and friends. I try to keep goodwill with my fellow man all year, of course.
We all share that spirit of the holidays, I hope. That was what I really wanted, to share that feeling of peace. Don’t get me wrong, presents are good, but peace on earth, goodwill to all, is a wonderful thing.
I guess, to all the nine-year-olds waiting for Santa, he comes eventually. Because the holidays are about giving and love you make, and all that. And maybe, something nice under the tree for you.