'he don't come but once a year...'
within days of starting my first post-college job as a newspaper reporter, my editor looked across the newsroom at me and blurted out, "hey! i have the perfect idea for a story!"
poised to show what i was made of (because those a's in my news writing and editing classes didn't just happen, my friends), i flipped the cover of my reporter's notebook open with gusto, flourished a pen, and waited eagerly for the assignment that would surely garner me a press association award.
"i want you to do a story on santa claus!" she said, the look on her face radiating with a level of elfin glee (and a scary seriousness that made me instantly rethink why i'd accepted this position). "does he exist? why do we believe in him? find out, because i'll make this the lead on the front page."
"um...yeah," i replied, the reporter's notebook falling to my side as my enthusiasm crashed, my formerly poised pen suddenly limp with rejection. "so...huh. do we have contact information for santa? do you by chance have an 'in' with the big guy so i can arrange an interview?"
"you're bright," elfin editor lady replied. "that's why i hired you! (yes, i probably would have gotten an 'a' in "bright" had it been a college journalism course). you'll figure this out and i just know it will be a great story. oh, and plan on getting a picture to go with it, too!"
a couple thoughts raced through me as she walked away, the first of which was an immediate fear that i'd never (ever!) get another job and be stuck at this small town, santa claus-exposing newspaper the rest of my life. the second was a mental note not to clear off the space around my desk soon for any awards.
i sat for days (the beauty of a weekly newspaper!) trying to come up with some angle for this assignment. being a grown up, naturally i'd given up the fantasy of a real santa claus long ago (shockingly, my excitement at the idea of santa hadn't been instantly tempered at the age of nine when i came across polaroids in my mom's dresser drawer and quickly deduced the man in the photos dressed in the red suit and cottony white facial hair bore an insane resemblance to my dad).
however, just because i'm a grown-up doesn't mean i truly want to chuck this whole idea of reindeer games and some delightful old man who sneaks into my house once a year to leave me some long-coveted item. honestly, i gave it up to santa for a long time after that first stereo showed up under my family's christmas tree! sure, i still wanted to believe santa was real when i was 14.
i still want to believe today. it's that glimmer of hope, that desire to have some perfectly harmless fantasy be a reality, that made writing that story difficult. i may be old enough to know better, but inside of me is a hint of the girl i was at six, when christmas truly couldn't get here fast enough. when i didn't realize this holiday can be ushered in with a blend of anxiety, financial burdens and stress. when i couldn't sleep because i'd be constantly listening for the sleigh bearing the item i most wanted that year as it came to a rest upon my roof.
even today, as i listen to my oldest son question the existence of santa, i'm compelled to smile when he tempers his doubt simply by saying he believes in him in his heart and that if he feels he's real there, then there's little doubt he truly is. for an instant after he says this, i can turn over the store receipts indicating what i've paid for his gifts this year, and convince myself he's right. i can believe that i won't have to worry about finding the perfect gift for him, that i must decorate the house 'just so,' or that my husband need fill up on cookies and carrots left out on christmas eve for my sons to delightfully inspect the next morning.
i can believe that it will all be taken care of.
for a moment, of course.
i know i have the responsibility of being santa for my children, and i certainly don't take the job lightly. i didn't have that sense when i eventually wrote the piece for the newspaper, but i realized it was the feeling we may have, even if it does only come around once a year, that we could take on the task of being this magical fantasy so someone may continue to believe. it was around that angle that i wrote my article, interviewing children and parents and volunteers who helped santa out during the holidays. in the end, it ended up being an award-worthy piece.
silly as it may be, it's helped me believe in santa a little bit longer, too, and that feeling, above most anything else this time of year, is why i enjoy christmas
ah, but another reason i enjoy christmas? no photographic evidence of either my husband or i dressed up in cheap santa costumes for the boys to discover and have the myth be shattered. we're the wise little elves my parents couldn't be in the age of polaroids!
some things, like santa, shouldn't necessarily be seen to be believed.
before i go, i must complete the tag assigned to me this weekend. to complete it, i must:
- grab the book closest to me
- open the book to page 123 and go to the fifth sentence on that page
- post the text of the next three sentences that follow the fifth sentence
- name the title of the book and the author
because i'm presently in the middle of two books, and they're placed aside together, i'm generously giving you two entries. i'm also sure this tag will float it's way through the internet on a global scale, so i'll simply look forward to seeing what any of you come up with on your own!
ok - first entry comes from my "bible," and because page 122-124 are stunning photos of my gods, i'm taking the liberty of hitting this at page 125:
"i had just bought a pair of red doc martens boots which cost me fifteen pounds, a lot of money back then. there was a scene where the director, meiert avis, asked me to splash through a puddle. i said, 'i'll get my new docs wet.'"
-- larry mullen jr., "u2 by u2"
the second entry:
"this talent also primes women for anticipating the physical needs of nonverbal infants. being this emotionally sensitive has its pros and cons. jane, a normally brash and courageous person, told me she could not get to sleep for hours after seeing an intense action flick. in a study on the aftereffects of frightening films, women were more likely to lose sleep than men."
-- "the female brain" by louann brizendine, m.d.