Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d start with a Christmas story.
In December, there was a video going around on social media about a girl in kindergarten in the US who’s only Christmas present wish was for her Dad to come home from Iraq. Santa shows up at her school classroom with gifts for all the kids and then, in the big reveal, takes off the beard and hat and it turns out to be her Dad. Cue crying.
Seriously, cue crying. Which I totally did since her reaction and her Dad’s was really heart-melting to witness. Absolute love and joy.
But, then I got to thinking. How confusing for this kid. Does she now think her Dad is Santa? What about the other kids in the class – do they think this guy is Santa? Or, how many of those kids were now asking, “hey, is Santa even real? WTF?”
Which may have been fine if I’d kept my thoughts to myself (a place I seem to end up at a lot). But I was out with a group of girlfriends who all, except for me and one other woman, have kids. And we were talking about this video and I shared my thoughts and said that I have never been able to sort out what I would do if I was a parent with regards to the whole Santa and Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny gig.
I mean, you basically lie to your kids. At the same time you are trying to build a sense of trust with them and teach them not to lie. I remember how I felt when I figured out that Santa wasn’t real. Like the butt of a practical joke; too stupid to figure out what everyone else already knew.
On the other hand, Santa is fun for kids. The excitement, leaving him treats (and some for the reindeer), using the NORAD site to track his progress on Christmas Eve. Who wants to miss out on that?
As you can imagine, there was a deafening awkward silence at my statement punctuated only by the sympathetic glance from my also-childless friend, who clearly knew better than me to not voice such things. I’m not sure if I sounded critical, I certainly didn’t mean to be. I was genuinely interested in how these women squared that circle.
Alas, no one picked up my awkward words as they lay there on the table staring helplessly back at me. There was just awkward silence as everyone just took another drink from their cocktails and the evening continued on. So, anyway ….
Later, also via Facebook, I found an article about how people explain Santa to their kids as they get older. It proposed that we all are the spirit of Santa together. When you’re a kid, your parents play the spirit of Santa. When you get older, you learn that everyone is the spirit of Santa and we all contribute to making the magic of Christmas. It is bigger than just a guy who delivers presents. It’s the sharing and gifts and gratitude we all create our loved ones.
Which brings me to Valentine’s Day. And making the spirit of Valentine’s Day bigger than just chocolate, consumerism and couples. It brings me to Generosity Day. To bringing more love into the world, in all its various forms. Couples and families, friends and strangers. To random acts of kindness. To sharing ourselves instead of our stuff. To the pause in a busy day to really connect with another person. To buying the stranger behind you in the drive-though a coffee. To taking the time to listen. To hugs and smiles. To going big with the love. In a hundred small ways.
Maybe it’ll last longer than just one day.