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December 26: Don't Kill (the Spirit of ) Santa

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One week before Christmas this year, my 10-year-old daughter found out that Santa is not real. It was bound to happen. She is 10, she has an older sister, and she is bright and inquisitive. What surprised me was her reaction- she was ecstatic. Suddenly thrilled, she was full of questions about the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, and all related details. She just had to know: where did I put all of the teeth I have collected for years and years? It was quite hilarious to witness her mind working to unravel the truth behind these major lies.

As I explained to my precious daughter- as my mother had to me- that the spirit of Santa is real, I found that I started to question that very idea myself. Really? Is there a spirit of Santa? I mean, yeah, I’m as generous as I possibly can be with my kids’ gifts each Christmas morning. But is that the spirit of Santa I spoke of? Where is the spirit of Santa I was referencing? Where is the magic? The random acts of kindness and love, selflessness, thoughtfulness, non-materialism, and spiritual goodness that is so often buried under selfies, social media, and the chaos of a life that is too damn busy.

With these questions in the background I proceeded with life as usual, including the shopping frenzy that is Christmas, and returned home one night to an unexpected Amazon package at my front door. Woo-hoo! I stared at the package from my car as I pulled into the driveway, trying to remember what I had ordered to no avail. As I approached the box I realized it was toilet paper! I was overcome with joy and excitement. I kid you not. You see, I despise buying toilet paper. I hate it. I hate it so much that I am often tempted to steal it. When I am in a public restroom in a church basement (which I often am), a library or a store that leaves their toilet paper supply in clear sight, my first, entitled thought is- I should take a roll. I never have, and I hope I never do. But I think it. It’s a financial-stress, anxiety, insecurity- thing: I feel like I should not have to pay for the most basic necessities. It is a flaw in my own character. Some say I am entitled, and in this case, well, I guess I am, and I’m working on it.

A gift of toilet paper unexpectedly arrived on my doorstep and I.was.thrilled! I was down to 2 rolls and about to pick up my 3 kids for a week. 3 kids, who despite my tendency to use toilet paper sparingly, use about 25 squares too many per trip to the loo- I was in need of toilet paper. So, I was delighted at this magical delivery of 36, soft rolls of toilet paper. Upon further inspection I realized it was a gift from my Aunt Pat and Uncle Bill. I can only assume they read my blog post about my own Christmas list (toilet paper was on it) and decided to surprise me with the most perfect toilet paper at the most perfect time as a most unexpected and perfect gift.

And then it hit me: My Aunt Pat an Uncle Bill are the spirit of Santa Clause. They are the selfless, magical, thoughtful acts of kindness that I want my daughter to see as the spirit of St. Nick. It is certainly not just the toilet paper. The magic that these two loving people have spread in my world is impossible to put into words.

The toilet paper arrived at the right time in my life to teach me that the spirit of Santa lives in all of us. It does not require large sums of cash or material possessions. It is thoughtfulness. It is thinking of others. It is simply doing what you can to surprise someone else, help them, comfort them, or add a small token of unexpected joy to another's day. The spirit of Santa is not something that we see on December 25 only. Magic, kindness, love, and selflessness are alive in this world. Look for it, find it, embrace it and strive to be it.

Today is December 26. Many are suffering from the post-Christmas let down. It is over: There are messes to be cleaned up, gifts to be returned, and for crying out loud many of us will be back at work very soon. So keep the magic alive today. Do something nice and unexpected for a loved one or a stranger or yourself. Don't forget Santa and his spirit simply because it is December 26. Long live the magic of St. Nick and a huge thank you to my aunt Pat and Uncle Bill. Words cannot express my gratitude, but I’ll try it anyway. Thank you for the toilet paper and for being Santa no matter what the season, month or day. People like my Aunt Pat and Uncle Bill are the magic, the wonder, and the spirit of Santa. Find your people and thank them and then, pay it forward. It is December 26; let's keep the magic alive.

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