Friday, December 23, 2011

Keeping Santa's Rules

Time goes on and empty nesters we all become. In our modern world you and your children may end up living in different parts of the country -- California and New Hampshire in my case. These days we just don't get to celebrate Christmas with our children or any child for that matter. It's a much different holiday without kids. For one, there's no one to wake you on Christmas morning long before you've had enough sleep. Look out chickens -- here come the kids. Our house is beautifully decorated but years of Christmas morning traditions have gone by the wayside. Last year when I received a Christmas present from my daughter Pat I wasted no time opening it and discovering a wonderful indoor weather station. I sent Pat an email thanking her even though Christmas was still days away. Her response was a little surprised that I hadn't waited to open it -- she was perhaps a little disappointed that I broke Santa's rules.

I look at that weather station on my desk every day. Even a year latter I remember how last year's Christmas unfolded and was motivated to rethink my approach to the season. I couldn't help but begin with Pat's first Christmas in Klienbundenback, Germany. Pat was just months old and won't remember but I always will. I thought about any child's joy in anticipating the discovery of what "Santa" had left for them. Then I realized it was their wonder and joy that made Christmas special for me as well. When you think about the Christmas season experience there's a lot to be learned about giving, receiving and caring about others. This year I'll be following Santa's rules. I can enjoy anticipating what's under the tree for me and my daughter Pat can enjoy thinking about how pleased I'll be to discover what she bought for me. I know she spent time carefully choosing just the right gift. The least I can do is wait for Christmas morning. We may not be together but keeping the tradition will make us closer and indeed make Christmas a more special day between us. Keeping Santa's rules is definitely the way to go. Especially for those of us for whom Christmas has become childless and a bit old hat. Traditions aren't for children alone. They are for everyone.

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