I Guess I Still Believe in Santa. Do You?

When we were young, it was easy to believe in Santa.

Now that we’ve grown up, it’s easy not to believe in Santa.

He’s going to take off his costume when he goes home.

And pull off his fake beard.

And maybe he’ll pass by us on the street before the New Year comes to an end.

Time does that to us, strips us of illusions.

When I was young, I used to write short letters to Santa asking him for gifts.

Sometimes he delivered them through his recurrent messenger, my mother.

Santa still delivers gifts to me at this time of year, always indirectly—he’s a busy guy.

I can’t say I think that much about him anymore.

As the years go by, we tend to learn to give to ourselves the gifts that really matter rather than expect them from others.

And yet, what would grownup Christmas be without Santa?

Global warming has done away with snow, at least where I live.

But Santa always shows up around this time of year in one form or other.

Even if it’s only on the radio or in commercials, he makes his presence felt.

I guess I still believe in Santa, not in his existence, but in the idea of his existence.

Whether or not he has a beard or part time job doesn’t matter.

He could be a woman or African American or South Korean. Same to me.

The thing about Santa is that he wears the holiday spirit, and it suits him.

I don’t know exactly what that is, the holiday spirit, I wouldn’t be able to define it, but it’s in the air.

I still believe in Santa because Santa gives me the excuse to give gifts to others.

To think about others and my family more than I usually do.

And that is worth a bit of deception, isn’t it?

And even if this year Santa wears a mask, well, let him.

Online shops will lend him a speedy hand.

And don’t worry about Santa catching the coronavirus before reaching you.

His chimney habits and sky sledging make him good at social distancing or so I’ve heard…


(c) Image: Patty Vicknair

In Praise of Gift Wrapping

I enjoy wrapping and unwrapping gifts, and I especially enjoy watching unwrapped gifts lie untouched on the desk or under the Christmas tree, teasing my curiosity. 

Who can say which gifts are the most precious? Those we receive unexpectedly? Those that come from afar? Those that need a long time to reach us, and for which we wait with a certain unease, not knowing whether they will be here today or tomorrow?

Or maybe the gifts we give ourselves? But then we never wrap those. The best-wrapped gifts always tend to come from others.

Over the years I have received many wonderful gifts. Some I longed for. Others came unexpectedly. I have received old books, more than a hundred years old. I have received Egyptian tarot cards. I have received an eyelash in a tiny box, courageously plucked after many tries. I have received journals and wooden pencils, nudges to write and rewrite my life anew.

I have also given gifts which I like to think were special. Crankshaft music boxes that never stopped playing. Rainbow boxes filled with photographs and candy. Soap ducks which must have seen a thing or two. Watches whose careful ticking bounded in a rounded frame the importance of time and chained it in hours.

Because I enjoy unwrapping gifts so much, I always try to wrap my gifts well. Gift wrapping is, to some extent, like putting on good clothes for a special occasion. Once it is removed, it makes the naked sentiment within all the more beautiful.

Sometimes I spend a ridiculous amount of time wrapping a gift and at the end I’m still not happy with the result and wrap it again some other way.

Alongside old gifts I treasure, I keep in a drawer of my nightstand bits of wrapping from gifts I particularly liked. In the wrapping I find at least as much sentiment as in the gift itself. It amuses me when someone goes over the top and wraps the thing so well that I’m baffled as to how to proceed to open it without tearing out the wrapping.

If every gift is a story, then the wrapping may not be the plot or the character, but it surely is a fine description, one that’s worth reading and rereading. To take the time to wrap a gift well is a noble thing indeed, one that only good spirited people can accomplish. People who may not have time but who nevertheless find it. People who do not do only things that they have to, but also things that they want to. People who are not merely alive, but who live.

So, I urge you all to wrap the gifts you give well. Spare no wrapping paper, choose the best ribbons you can find, and take as much time as you want, even if eager hands will tear it apart in a moment. Not everyone may collect gift-wrapping like I do. But everyone will appreciate it.

PS: What is the most unusual gift you have ever received? I don’t ask this only to trick you into leaving me a new comment — I would really like to know.

The Best Birthday Gift

Gift woman painting Kirk Richards
(c) Kirk Richards

With my birthday just around the corner, I thought I might as well buy myself a well-deserved gift or two, some tea and books of course, in anticipation of the gifts others will likely give me. For birthdays have indeed that power to summon you into the memory of people who are usually too occupied with their own lives to trouble themselves too much about you. But then I thought, why do we need birthday gifts?

Continue reading “The Best Birthday Gift”