Donna C. Terrell

I Was Just Thinkin'

On Christmas and Coming of Age

on December 23, 2013

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It was in second grade that suspicions flared in my mind about Santa Claus. “Why does every store on this block have a Santa Claus?” I asked my mother as we walked from store to store on south Michigan Avenue, a once bustling hub of activity in Chicago.

“Oh, those are his helpers,” my mother replied.

“Well, why do they say they’re Santa Claus? Why are they dressed like him? I thought the elves were his helpers.” I don’t recall my mother saying anything to that. I think by fourth grade Santa was a non-issue.

Believing in Santa or not, I still had that Christmas morning excitement. It was always such anticipation and suspense leading up to Christmas that sleeping on Christmas Eve night was impossible. Even as an only child, I rose up early to leap into the bounty of toys and gifts under the tree.

Then I’m in my teens and getting out of bed at 5 and 6 in the morning on a non-school day was so not going to happen.

Then I’m single and the only thing I wanted for Christmas was somebody to love and love me back.

Then I’m with The Boyfriend and I wanted him to be The Fiance. I had my mind set on a big diamond ring—that I didn’t get.

As I reflect back on the years of Christmas past, I see that Christmas can be a marker for life. Think about how old you were or where you were in life

  • when you no longer believed in Santa Claus.
  • when you stopped waking up early to unwrap gifts.
  • when you wanted what money can’t buy.
  • when giving and buying for others were more important than receiving.
  • when you realize that you have everything you need and want.

I’m in a really good place right now; I have my material Christmas present—a paint job and new carpet. Non-material items—the intangibles—are the important things. Everybody’s here and healthy. Best friends are dating decent men. Dad is coming over for Christmas dinner. There’s money to buy gifts as well as to pay that speeding ticket I got a couple of weeks ago. Now it’s time to relax and watch Charlie Brown, The Grinch, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. C’mon, it’s not the same without these traditional gems! Whether I’m 5, 35, or 75, happy or discontent, watching a black-and-white or HD flat screen, they are the constant. Good to know that some things never change.

Merry Christmas to you! I hope this year finds you in a good place too!

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