What I love about Christmas, what I have always seen as the real lesson of Christmas, is that wishes come true. Christmas allows us to hope for something, sometimes it’s rollerblades or a Playstation (I was twelve okay?) and other times it’s peace and joy. Christmas, for me, has always been about possibilities. I could get anything when I opened all those wrapped presents.
I almost always got the big thing I asked for, no matter how broke we were or how long my mom had to put stuff on layaway at Kmart. Our PG&E could get shut off the next day, but damn it we were going to get our hearts’ desire.
As we got older and moved out my mom just kept buying shit and shoving it under the tree. She bought me a five dollar blouse from Amazon last year. It buttons up in the front. I haven’t worn a button up blouse since the nineties. And even then it was a bad look on me.
But I realized long ago as I was opening gifts that meant nothing to me, that I would likely donate or toss after the obligatory few months of keeping them, that Christmas wasn’t about me anymore, it wasn’t about getting. It was about giving.
My mom gave us a bunch of shit because she likes to be the giver. Sure, she enjoys getting stuff too. But she really enjoys the role of giving.
And that now is who I have become. I enjoy giving. I enjoy making dreams come true. I enjoy the look on my little girl’s face as she opens gifts she never imagined she would want and the ones she specifically asked for. The magic of Christmas is now about her magic, her wishes, her anticipation.
Much of the work I do to change the world is through kids. I teach kids, my own and others’, all year round in ways that will, ideally, make the world a kinder, more compassionate place. By working to help others, to be kind to others, I am building a better world for them and for me too.
Likewise, I make Christmas magical for children, and so it is magical for me.
I am a firm believer in happily ever after. It often does all work out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end. If you’re not dead, it’s not the end.
I’m not dead.
I also believe that we work for our fairytales. One of the big reasons my mom spent a lifetime being disappointed is that she believed in the first part of the fairytale, but not the backstory.
Happily ever after does not mean sitting and waiting. All fairytales involve stories of hard work, of struggle, of challenge. Not one character in a fairytale was a lazy asshole who had lots of good things happen to her. In fact, the lazy asshole (Ursula in The Little Mermaid, for example) ends up speared, off a cliff, or the victim of a million other horrors.
Easily my favorite fairytale is that of Cinderella. This woman loses everything – her mother, her father, her inheritance – yet she maintains a positive attitude and she works hard. She busts her ass for her demanding, ungrateful stepmonster and stepbitches.
She gets a little help (hello fairy godmother) and she charms a prince who has become disenchanted by people desperate for his attention and affection, who twist themselves into something they are not to please him.
The lessons in this story are plethora. Work hard, believe in magic, keep hope alive, be yourself, be kind, fall in love.
I sing the song to Celaya, and now Matilda, before bed.
Wishes don’t fall from the sky. You do have to work for them. You have to be a good person. You have to keep believing. You have to open all the presents. And you have to give, give, give, in order to receive.
Are there examples of people who are evil and villainous, who take, take, take and still seem to win? Yes, of course. But, in the end, they always seem to find their comeuppance. You don’t hear many stories about horrible people who live happily ever after, in real life or in fiction. If they haven’t receive their comeuppance yet, it is just a matter of time.
We have to remember that, that everything is a matter of time and perception. We have to open our eyes to our roles as wish granters and receivers. We can sharpen our senses and recognize opportunities to make our wishes come true. Realize that Cinderella had to recognize the prince and the prince had to recognize Cinderella. They had to truly see each other as dreams come true in the end.
The important thing is to see the big picture, which is why I love Christmas. The holiday of magic comes at the end of the year, at the end of the big picture. We can have a tough year, a challenging time, months of struggles and nose to the grind. Perhaps we were hurt by someone, or by a whole system, but at the end of the year, we all still hold out hope that our dreams, maybe just one small dream even, will come true.
And more often than not, of we just keep on believing, they do.