Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday P.R.

One thing that amazes me at this time of year is how everyone suddenly becomes a public relations expert.

Many of us are guilty of sending out those standard holiday letters. I know I send them to all those on our Christmas card list who we don't speak to on a regular basis.

What I find most interesting is how everyone's six-year-old seems to be in line for a Nobel Prize and how redecorating the dining room has made us a candidtate for a spread in Better Homes and Gardens. Because whatever news we have this year, good or bad, we spin it.

That speeding ticket you got in October becomes a commedation from the police department. The bad progress report your sixth grader brought home is now a special recognition for academic achievement from the school's principal.

Wouldn't you love--just for once--to get a letter that sounded like this:

Happy Holidays to all of our family and friends!

We hope this year finds you well. It has been an exciting time in our household.

Cliff continues to enjoy golf. He recently purchased new clubs since he threw his old ones in a water hazard out of frustration. Cliff's electrical business continues to thrive. We were not bothered at all by that pesky IRS audit last year. He expects the fraud and racketeering charges to be dropped at any time. If they aren't, what's 10 to 20 years, anyway?

Kris is quite excited about her expanding cosmetic business. She is planning a demonstration at a women's prison early next year. Her hobbies include gardening, scrapbooking and following her rather disorganized family around the house with a dustpan and a can of Lysol. She is still taking remedial cooking classes and was not discouraged at all by that three-alarm fire in the kitchen at Thanksgiving.

Shannon is still thriving in high school. The little cheating incident on the PSATs has not discouraged her academic goals at all. She is hoping to be accepted into one of the finest convent or reform schools in the country.

Sean's progress in school continues to be, well, interesting. The teacher thinks he may very well pass seventh grade without summer school this time. Our family in Pennsylvania is making plans to visit him for his military school induction or his first parole hearing, whichever comes first.

Our little puppy Chloe is growing fast. We are searching for a doggy psychiatrist to assist us since she has been kicked out of three obedience schools. She is almost totally housebroken now, and we only had to replace the carpets in six rooms, along with two couches and a matress.

For those of you in the southern part of the country, we may very well show up on your doorstep next year. We will be travelling to Podunk, TN to see the world's largest ball of yarn!

Now there's an interesting year!

Here's wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year that is "spin-worthy!"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Believe In Santa Claus

In our house, it's been a long time since we have had a little one waiting anxiously for Santa Claus to arrive. And that makes me little sad.

The fact is that children mature and realize that Santa Claus doesn't land on the roof and descend down your chimney with a pack of toys. But to a parent, the loss of that belief is a sign that your children are growing up and that some of the magic has gone from this time of year.

I, however, refuse to believe claims that Santa is a myth, because I still believe that he exists.

Santa Claus was actually a real person who lived about 1,700 years ago. The real St. Nicholas was a 4th century bishop in Turkey who used his substantial inheritance to help the poor. Legend has it he would toss coins through open windows, and children began hanging up stockings hoping to capture them.

St. Nicholas has evolved through the centuries into the jolly, fat, bearded man in red we know today. He is blessed with the uncanny ability to force children into good behavior (I used to warn mine his elves looked through the windows to give Santa status reports) and reminds adults of the days when they, too, waited to hear sleigh bells on Christmas Eve.

And I miss Santa. I miss the annual trek to the mall for a visit. I miss writing letters to him, mailing them to the North Pole and waiting for a response. I miss sprinkling reindeer food in the yard, setting out a plate of cookies by the fireplace and tracking his progress across the world on the Norad Tracks Santa website.

Of course, I could still do all these things, but my family would probably think I've dipped into the eggnog too often. Besides, a 40-something woman sitting on Santa's lap just may give the jolly old elf the wrong impression.

Although Santa may no longer exist as a person, I believe he endures in a non-physical sense. He is the embodiment of all that is good and wonderful this time of year. He causes children to behave a little better, strangers to treat others with more kindness, and puts a little bit of magic and mystery back into our lives during the holiday season.

As we stress ourselves out trying to recreate the Martha Stewart holiday special in our own homes, perhaps we should all remember what Christmas comes down to: celebrating a miracle in a stable and the pure joy of giving.

As Francis Church famously responded to eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon's question "Is there a Santa Claus?" in the New York Sun back in 1897, "No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Viginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

He also fills the hearts of adults with joy, if only we let him. Here's hoping we each find a little bit of Santa in ourselves this time of year.