Warning: If you are younger than 11, skip this article and go straight to the comics!
I was at home with my grandmother enjoying a lazy morning before kindergarten when we settled in for our daily dose of “Family Feud.”
Richard Dawson had led another nail-biter all the way to the final challenge: “Name something you believed in as a child that you no longer believe in as an adult.”
Innocent, as suburban 6-year-olds were before Google took over, I watched the players hit their buzzers during what would become the final moments of my childhood.
One-by-one the top three answers spun around with a “Bing!” and applause to reveal the unthinkable. In less than a minute, the three most important figures in a kid’s life were outed as frauds on nationally syndicated television. I turned to my grandmother hoping she would deny it, but all she could do was shrug her shoulders and offer a sad, sympathetic smile.
I went through the day numbed by the trauma of watching Richard Dawson rip from my now-hardened heart all I’d held precious. Later that night my mom attempted to reconcile my previous understanding of the magic of the season with this new information, ending with a thinly veiled threat should I repeat any of it to anyone, especially to my little sister. But it was too late for condolences. That magic was gone.
By the time December rolled around, I was a wee, yet bitter, young lady. While classmates babbled on with excitement about Christmas, I rolled my eyes in disgust wondering how they could be so gullible. Ignorantly they debated which mall had the real Santa, whether or not the toys were handmade and how he breaks into homes without chimneys.
I sat Grinch-like through the entire month appalled at the immaturity of my fellow kindergarteners, wondering why I, with my vast wealth of knowledge, would have to be tortured by their sophomoric ramblings every afternoon.
Yet, tempting as it was to show-and-tell, I bit my tongue bloody. For deep in my heart I knew the wrath their mothers would unleash on our family if I breathed even a word.
Gradually, though, my abhorrence for their naiveté turned to envy, and I realized I longed deeply to see the season through the eyes of a child again rather than as a marketing gimmick. Believing had made my classmates so … happy.
I started small, nodding at their wide-eyed statements of wonder, affirming their faith in flying reindeer and eventually insisting we leave out cookies and milk for Santa at home.
So good was I at willing this faith that still, to this day, I lie in bed every Christmas Eve listening for the jingling of sleigh bells with such fervor I am certain I actually hear them.
No matter who visits your home this week, I hope you are able to hear the jingling of bells, too. May their light linger long after they leave and may you have the happiest of holidays yet.