Why I needed Santa and mittens
Looking at me, I am a walking contradiction. I am soft and sweet but tasteless and crude; I am smart and funny but stubborn and really obtuse. I am traditional... yet I really hate tradition.
As a parent, I know there is no crazier time in the year than the selling of Santa and Jesus and good holiday cheer. Yet, that's exactly how I need it to be in my life, because growing up, I worked my ass-off all year long hoping the Big Guy wearing a red suit would not forget me.
<Using childish pleading voice> "Please don't forget me... because as you and God know, I tried very hard to be good this year, even though it was very very hard, given what I had to work with!"
It was my brother who told me, "Santa doesn't exist." He said he learned this truth from the priest at our church. I didn't believe my brother... at least I didn't want to believe him. Perhaps the priest didn't want my brother to go to hell for thinking Santa was better than God or Jesus. Perhaps the priest wanted us (as a family) to be better Catholics... it didn't matter... I knew I was not a "good Catholic"... I knew I was already going to hell (whatever that meant). I hated what the Catholic church did to me, as it broke me apart from my natural family, so how could I respect and praise a group that could not keep their stories straight?
Later in life I learned how hell can be experienced on earth.
My brother, and this priest both failed to see the importance of Santa to me, the little girl waiting for the reminder that someone remembered me... little ol me who got taken away, and placed someplace else, by little working helpers of another kind.
Adoption was a cold cruel fate my brother and family couldn't understand, because they were all kept by and within their own blood-line.
So Christmas, with all it's trimmings, and sentiments of sharing and giving, always had a whole different meaning to me, as I saw the celebration of Jesus' birthday through the eyes of the adopted child who wanted to see the signs and symbols of all those things and people I wanted to keep and remember.
Traditionally, that was the only time of the year our house was filled with warm cozy lights and the smell of cookies baking; it was the only time pretty decorations adorned each room, music played on the stereo and we as a family would eat really good food. It was the only time that cold dark lonely isolating house became a home. I loved this feeling of "warm cozy home" and I wanted to believe each family member was loved and cherished, equally, by everyone... even if that was a lie basedon wishful thinking, one that had to be faked and defended.
When I was little, I couldn't wait for Christmas Day to arrive because Santa's visit was the proof I needed to know I wasn't forgotten by the one man who wanted me to be happy with all that was given. It didn't matter if a priest or an angry brother did not think Santa existed... I knew in my heart of hearts a complete stranger with a very warm and loving heart was not too far away on Christmas Day... and that's all I needed to know to keep my lonely heart going I was not forgotten, and I was good. That little secret kept inside of me helped me spend quite days in my room, coloring... (that time of the year I liked to be "extra-good" for my aparents. Being quiet and not causing trouble became my one constant "Kerry, do mommy and daddy a favor" rule.)
I remember, as I spent those quiet hours alone with those coloring books of mine, I noticed something about Santa that set him apart from all other adults I knew in the world. In all the ready-to-be-colored pictures I had of him, Santa was always wearing mittens. I loved that Santa wore mittens, because I wore mittens, too.
That's how I knew Santa must be real... "because he wears mittens, just like me." Ah... nothing like good sweet mythical thinking,eh? How many of us held onto that adoption myth that said mommy was all loving and perfect, and coming back to save us from this living hell?
<fading to black>
Yes, when I was little, I looked for simple, silly basic clues... signs... that told me The Time... The Person is near. Mittens, in my mind, indicated the wearer had a sense of softness and sweetness, one that could not be had if the same person wore a pair of gloves.
I miss the days of waiting for Santa... my mythical hero of heroes. But to this day I still wear mittens when it's cold. I like keeping the little girl-in-me alive, even when so much of me feels old, used, and dead.
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