Santa Claus is not real? I don't think so!
How else would you explain the fact that for years, and quite consistently, every gift deposited under the tree with that little tag bearing my name on it exactly matched the items I meticulously enumerated in each of my 30-something past Christmas lists? Obviously only an extraordinary person with super sensitive, compassionate and omnipotent powers could have been paying attention and executing such miracle.
Christmas has always been and still is my favorite holiday EVER -- partly because I am shamefully spoiled and have regularly gotten the extravagantly fancy gifts I not-so-accidentally expressed interest in, but also primordially because of what it has come to symbolically represent for me. It's all about the precious sentimental traditional values attached to the many beautiful memories of these annual family reunions, and most importantly the innocence of believing that the impossible is possible all because of the bigger than life existence of one fictional man.
We keep debating on whether we, adults, should tell children the truth about Santa. Does it do anything for our little ones? I, for one, am a strong believer that we need to keep the myth alive. It's not only sort of a traditional rite of passage -- an important aspect of childhood we shouldn't spoil -- but it's also about the power of magical thinking as a child. Let children be children and let their imagination run wild. They'll figure it out soon enough. In the meantime, while we, as society, already do a good job at foreshortening their childhood, why not let them believe while they still can. Tragically we all have a tendency to become jaded adults and take things for granted. But the Santa Claus tradition is what makes "impossible" read "I'm possible."
Shamelessly, I believed in Santa up until I was eleven years old. And it wasn't for nothing. Santa actually jump-started my professional career as a publicist. As they say, the magic is in you ... and in the small details.
For me the most pivotal part of the Christmas tradition was evidently the inevitable letter to Santa, which had to be meticulously produced following a very specific method. That was the part of the ritual I couldn't allow myself to mess up and passionately adhered to in quite an obsessive fashion because let's face it, that damned letter would either break or seal the deal. Very early on I understood the power behind a good pitch and newsworthy angles -- it's all about presentation and content.
Accordingly, I concocted a highly elaborated technique that was to become my trademark signature in the penning of the sacred letter to Santa -- in PR terms this is what we call the press kit aka the liaison between the "nobody" version of you and the version of your face printed in the magazines. Similarly, my letter was the only calling card I had to bridge the gap between toy-less Mona and Mona with the Rubik's cube, Pac Man, the roller skates, the Star Wars Millennium Falcon ship.
The structure was always the same and followed a very precise outline: it had an introduction, middle and an end. Granted, content wise, the only thing that would differ every year was the middle part, which was exclusively reserved for the enumeration of the items I was ordering. First I would politely salute Santa and all the members of his barn, then I would jump into a bushel of apologies making amends for all the accumulated bad girl behaviors of the year -- including not helping my mom enough, fighting with my brother, taking advantage of my grand-parents' kindness and generosity, causing a ruckus at school and not scoring good grades. Then after explaining why I had resorted to all these little minor crimes, I would wholeheartedly promise to embrace a behavior worthy of his moral ethics and philosophy. Once I esteemed I had solidly justified myself and was certain I would receive his redemption, I would confidently proceed with the piece de resistance, namely my list.
In an effort to avoid any room for confusion, I had devised an ingenious system to design an unmistakable presentation. I would divide my list into three columns: the left one had the picture of the toy I had skillfully cut out of a magazine or a catalog and pasted on my letter for visual aid; in the middle column I would write in capital letters the name of the toy matching the picture, and finally in the right one I would put, in capital letters as well, the name and address of the store where I knew suggested toy was available for purchase. I figured I would give Santa all the tools humanly possible to facilitate a speedy, productive and successful shopping spree on my behalf.
My letter would end with a grateful "Thank You" always accompanied with that confident one liner that assumed the deal and hence wouldn't leave Santa any last minute chance to change his mind. What can I say? I just wouldn't have it any other way. Plus I was very much aware of the fact that if I didn't believe in my own cause, how else would I convince Santa to buy my pitch. Then right under my signature, I would leave my contact information, which mainly boiled down to my mailing address. Surely I had to make sure he wouldn't show up with all my goodies at a different residence -- seriously, I couldn't fathom why some other kids would reap the benefits of my arduous efforts.
In all seriousness, beyond just sparking a professional vocation for which, gratefully, I have been enjoying for the past two decades, the myth of Santa Claus has continuously given me the most priceless gift of them all: the power to forever see the world through the eyes of a child -- to believe in the extraordinary.
That to me is what the true magic of Christmas and the holiday spirit are all about.
As Erma Bombeck said: "There is nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child."
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