For my daughters, at Christmas time

There are so many issues surrounding the Christmas holidays.  Walk into any Christmas party and you will hear people discussing how early the stores put up Christmas decorations, how commercialized the holiday has become, or how crazy their relatives get at this time of year.  There are arguments about when families get together, how much people spend and whether or not gifts are appreciated.  Stress levels rise as people try to balance work, parties, Christmas concerts, family time, and Christmas shopping.  And yet, I still believe in the magic of Christmas.

Having been raised Catholic, I know what Christmas is supposed to be about.  I even understand how it morphed into the holiday that it has become.  That, after all, is the danger of magic.  It always has the potential for abuse.  But I don’t believe that Santa and the Christ child are mutually exclusive.  Really, Santa is just a euphemism for someone whose entire existence is about bringing joy to little girls and boys.  When God gave the world his only son, He gave the ultimate gift to humankind.  At Christmas, we honour this gift by giving gifts ourselves.  We make an extra effort to be the kind of people we should be all year long: loving, generous, forgiving.  What better way to celebrate the birth of Christ than to live his word?  Regardless of whether or not you believe in God, can there really be anything horrible about using Christmas as a means of spreading joy to others and promoting peace?

There will always be people who can and will use anything and everything for personal gain.  This is certainly true for Christmas.  And there will always be issues around family get togethers, gift giving, and money at this time of year.  But despite the family ‘discussions’, the commercialism, and the chaos, Christmas still has the potential to bring magic into the hearts of anyone who chooses to believe.  This is what I hope my daughters understand about Christmas:

Santa is great, and so are the presents, but Christmas is not a commercial holiday, despite what the retail world would have you believe.

Giving from the heart is better than any gift you could ever receive.

Christmas is about family.  This means that Christmas doesn’t have to happen on the 25th, but whenever we choose to celebrate together as a family.

We are the lucky ones.  We might not always give you what you want, but you will always have what you need.  So many children around the world have so little; I hope that, during the Christmas season, you think of those who are not so fortunate and that it humbles you.

Santa may not be real in the physical sense, but his spirit of giving is.  That complete, unquestioning faith in something that you cannot see or touch is such a magical part of childhood.  There are few things in life that can affect the hearts of everyone around them like the genuine excitement of a child at Christmas who still believes in Santa.  I hope that you recognize how sacred that belief is and never intentionally spoil it for someone else.

People may have opinions and beliefs about Christmas that are different from yours.  I hope that you are able to respect those beliefs while still holding true to your own.

As you grow, I hope you learn to appreciate everything that goes on behind the scenes during the Christmas holidays, and that you join in to help make them special.  I hope that, when you work together with others in your family, you understand the love that goes into these preparations, and the joy that comes from just being together.

Traditions are a special part of the Christmas holidays but, like you, they will grow and change with time.  I hope you are wise enough to distinguish between the traditions it’s OK to let go of and the ones that you should fight to keep.

Christmas, just like everything in life, will not always go as planned.  May you learn to accept and embrace this, and understand that sometimes the best memories are of Christmases that seemed like disasters at the time.

Most of all I hope that, no matter how old you are or what has happened in your life, you still feel the magic of Christmas.

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