It was the Christmas after I had turned 10. The previous few months were a whirlwind of life change for a nine-year-old. Being packed up in a truck and taken away from the only home that I loved. Parents divorce. Abuse. Being torn between my parents and realizing that my choice had consequences. A few more trips across state lines. Finally being able to return home for good. It was a summer that would change my life and solidified the type of person I am.
Back in Montana for my first Christmas as a kid with visitation obligations, I was still excited to see my Grandpa’s tree overflowing with presents (that side of my family is pretty big) and stockings on the mantel. I was a typical kid on Christmas eve…full of excitement and suspense, waiting for Santa’s arrival. I was not tired. My mom realized I was still awake and told me to go to bed. I explained that I was staying up to see Santa. I wanted to make sure he knew where I was. (Yes, I’ve always been a planner and control freak.) What happened in that next moment is something no kid likes to hear… “There is no Santa.” I may have yelled at that statement, not believing what I heard. In that exchange, the last piece of my childhood innocence was taken from me. I had already had to grow up way too quickly and deal with things no child should have to handle and now not even Santa was safe.
For the next Christmas back at home (as seen above), I learned to play along with the Santa is real scheme. In time, I learned to love Santa again and realized that whether he is real or not doesn’t matter int he grand scheme of things. Christmas is about more than a jolly old man bring junk in my stocking.
Truth is…reality is not always fun. There are parts of reality that I wish I could skip over. This year has felt like hearing the truth about Santa over and over. I learned that parents actually die and leave you to fend for yourself. I learned that as independent as I am, I have felt lost without my dad here. There is a big void. I’ve learned that the loss of a parent throws you ito this club you didn’t want to be in and at times can feel very lonely, but can also make relationships closer with people who “get it.” I’ve learned that dreams may need tweaking after hitting roadblock after roadblock. Basically, I think 2015 can jump off a cliff.
As I look forward to 2016, I am ready to figure out what this new reality looks like. I want to “love Santa again even though he isn’t real” and find joy in the new normal. I want to push aside the expectations of others and focus on the race I’ve been given in this life. We all have bumps in the road, and things happen that are out of our control. We have the ability to take our obstacles and sorrows and make them into something that will make a difference in someone else’s life (or the world).