Editor’s note: it’s become our Christmas Eve tradition to share this article – written in 2010 – with our chambanamoms.com family. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate from all of us at chambanamoms.com.
by Laura Weisskopf Bleill
The Christmas season is a funny thing when you don’t celebrate it. On the one hand, it can be irritating. People constantly wishing me to enjoy a religious holiday that is of a contrary faith, no matter where I turn … at the grocery store, at the flu clinic, at the coffee shop …
On the other hand, the hoopla is fun. I love the lights. People are in better moods. There is good food to eat and people have lots of parties. But what I love most is the true spirit of giving that is pervasive … a generosity of time, resources, and good cheer. There are stories like this one, where a family goes to a big box store and randomly pays for groceries. I cried through the whole thing. It is heartwarming, indeed.
In my old age I don’t mind when strangers say “Merry Christmas” to me anymore. Depending on the situation, sometimes I’ll nod and say, “Same to you.” If I have any sort of relationship with a person where I know I will see them again, I will tell her or him that I am Jewish. Much of the time I just smile and walk away.
When the children are with me, it’s a fine line. It is still confusing to my 4-year-old that people would wish us a Merry Christmas — or ask her what she wants Santa to bring her — when we don’t celebrate the holiday. It’s kind of like asking a woman if she is pregnant: if you don’t know for sure, don’t ask.
I’ve written about my child’s questions about Santa before. This year she’s a year older and she sees it a bit differently. One day she asked me: Mommy, why does Santa wear the same thing every day?
The next day it was: Is Santa real? So, I answered: Santa is real to the children and adults who believe in him. But we don’t celebrate Christmas, so we don’t believe in him.
I do believe that Santa has the power to do good, and I have proof. If you’re wondering what that picture above is all about, let me tell you. It’s the only time I’m aware of that I’ve had my picture taken with Santa.
My second daughter was born on Dec. 22, and we left the hospital on Dec. 24 – Christmas Eve. Santa and some of his elves – firefighters from a nearby community, I can’t remember which one now — were on the maternity floor at Carle Foundation Hospital passing out gifts to newborn babies, and any siblings that happened to be around.
It was a happy yet stressful time for all of us, getting ready to bring a new baby home, in the very cold night of winter.
But Santa provided some comic relief. And, very generously, my eldest daughter’s very first Barbie doll. Every Christmas Eve since, I have thought of that special Santa, and how he helped us that night.
Merry Christmas to all who celebrate.
Laura Weisskopf Bleill, a co-founder of chambanamoms.com, wishes Santa a safe trip down many Chambana chimneys this Christmas. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.