Remember when we were kids, how exciting it was to wait for Santa? Seeing Santa in the store, sitting on his lap, tugging his beard, and telling him what we wanted? And then, out of nowhere, some kid on the playground had the nerve to tell us the truth. “You mean you still believe in Santa?” HAHAHAHA.
I can still hear that boy sitting on the teeter-totter laughing and pointing at me, when spoiler alert, “Fatty still believes in Santa Claus!” No offense or anything, but that boy didn’t turn out so well. Most bullies don’t.
I acted like I’d known all along. Like, sure, what stupid idiot still believed in Santa? And then I went behind a tree and cried. Somehow, Christmas wasn’t the same after that. I didn’t get quite as excited when the weatherman gave the Santa report and the sleigh moved across the TV screen, indicating that Santa was on the job, wondering if my house was next.
Just this morning when Brad announced from the pulpit that he saw the reindeer pulling Santa in his sleigh, I studied the congregation. They smiled but had that look of those who know the truth. Charley, on the other hand, bounced up and down, grinned wide and rose out of his seat just enough to look over the pew, at the base of the tree, looking for presents.
Maybe it should, but it doesn’t embarrass me one bit. I love that he is a man, yet can’t contain his excitement. And I wouldn’t demand that he be anything but who he is.
It’s Charley who gets us in the Christmas spirit at our house. Each year Charley comes to the living room several times during the season to ask, “Mom, Dad, Santa comin’?”
And just tonight he ran out onto the lawn looking for the reindeer in the sky.
He still believes. Or, at least he wants us to think he believes. Charley’s no dummy though. He figured it out the year Brad played Santa at church. While the other kids all watched, Charley followed Santa around the sanctuary yelling, “Daddy, what you doin’ in dat Santa soup?” And then he’d point and say, “Dat my Dad in dere!”
Perhaps it’s his gift of Down syndrome that allows him to know the truth while refusing to compromise his right to the magic of Christmas. He may be the kid on Christmas morning, but after the hoopla, he always hugs us and says, “Kanks, guys.”
Still, before the big day when someone asks what Santa’s bringing him for Christmas, he knows exactly what he wants and gets that wide-eyed wonder look. “I getting new TV, CD player, DVD player, ipad, computer…”
And they look at us, like, “What the…?”
That’s where we chime in. “He has a great sense of humor doesn’t he?” And then we assure them we haven’t won the lottery. Well, at least not yet.
But then it occurs to me. Maybe we have won. We have a twenty-two year old who makes every day seem like Christmas. Because he believes. Because he loves unconditionally. Because he never gets too old to love life.
So what is it that you want? Whatever it is, I hope all your wishes come true.
What do I want for Christmas? The same thing I’ve gotten every year. I’ve gotten a two hundred pound teddy bear with a heartbeat. I’ve gotten to see Christmas through his eyes. The crescent moon shaped eyes of Down syndrome innocence.
And you can’t ask for more than that.