Passing along the secret of Santa

Christmas morning in Brooklyn was a miraculous event. Santa Claus had come during the night bringing not only gifts but also a cadre of elves who deftly set up and decorated the Christmas tree that we had helped our father purchase from the vendor who set up business in the vacant lot at the bottom of 55th Street. The wondrous joy of those mornings fueled by our unshakable belief in the magic and generosity of Santa carried us through many years of early winter anticipation. But, time passes, children grow up and gain access to the secrets of adults and we have to realign our beliefs. I packed away that belief in wondrous magic and Santa Claus into that part of me that never really went away on my journey into another, less enchanted existence.

I unpacked those ancient remembrances when I became a parent, this time to experience the transcendent wonder of my own children's joy. Now, my spouse didn't share the Christmas morning experiences of my youth; his family celebrated on Christmas Eve, but he humored me. He would take the children out in early December to find and cut down our Christmas tree on Pleasant Valley Road where a farmer had planted some trees years ago, sold most off, but held back a few for family and friends. Freshly harvested, the tree would stay on the porch, the children checking it often, knowing that soon it would be transformed by Santa - my Brooklyn Santa.

We agreed to replicate the wonder of Christmas mornings that my parents gave me by waiting until Christmas Eve when small children were safely in bed, to set up our tree and transform the house into a veritable Christmas wonderland. What a marvelous investment of time!

When it was Christmas morning, little heads and voices would come into our room urging us, "Is it Christmas yet?" Even though parental conspiracy kept us awake until well into the early hours of the day, we were as anxious as our offspring to greet the unexcelled awe of that morning ... to watch the glorious repetition of my childhood. "He came!" Shouts of excitement catapult you back to your own childhood memories. There is no greater happiness than watching your little one's eyes glow with that innocent belief in the magic of Santa.

Long ago our children, too, grew into the secrets of adults. Now it is their turn to find out what Christmas morning can mean to their children. Whether they chose to wait until Christmas morn or not, there will still be the joy of discovery and that wide eyed wonder that strikes such powerful memories of childhood, an unsurpassed delight for parents. Grandparents can smile knowing that they've passed on both sides of Santa's secret.

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