"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
con-fi-dence Function: noun
1 a : a feeling or consciousness of one's powers or of reliance on one's circumstances
2 : what I'd like for Christmas
I remember a Christmas morning, long ago, when my sister cemented her belief in Santa Claus.
It had rained the day before and the ground was all muddy. Her big present from Santa that year was a playhouse, and Dad got one that was already built from a friend of his that his daughter had outgrown.
He somehow got ahold of a friend with a truck, and while my sister and I went to visit my grandmother on Christmas Eve night, he backed the truck into the yard and set the playhouse there for her to find in the morning. When we got home late that night, we were pretty much asleep and none the wiser.
The next morning, my sister went running out in the yard in her pajamas, yelping with glee and excitement.
But there, from the driveway to the front of the playhouse, the truck had left two great big tire tracks.
My sister looked at them, her young mind spinning...
"Sleigh tracks!" she cried, and from that moment on she firmly believed in Santa, no matter what the other kids said.
Now it's been decades since that magic morning. I've had my own Christmas mornings with my own family, and watched them grow and leave the home and start families of their own.
And this year, there is no Christmas at my house.
The tree doesn't have a single present. My wife keeps telling me things she wants, but there's none of them that we can really afford. She, of course, wants them all.
And here I sit, but inside I know that this isn't what Christmas is about at all. It's not about getting stuff. The story of Jesus is not about the wise men. The story of Santa is not about the presents. No, Christmas is about giving. Not presents necessarily, but things of value.
Giving value. Being important to someone. Those are what Christmas is to me.
I was at a meeting the other night and a friend of mine expressed her disgust with Christmas. She is a pagan (which I find quite sad) and her opposition to the holiday is almost militant. It's not that she has a problem with Jesus or Santa or whatever. She has a problem with the hypocracy of doing this one day a year and not the other 364 days.
She's right, too.
The local Target store this year has erased any mention of Christmas. Their sale ads are "Holiday Sales." There are no more Salvation Army bell ringers at their doors. And the decorations inside say two simple messages. "Give" on one side of the store, and "Get" on the other.
In the United States, the holiday has really turned into just a simple "get." That turns my stomach.
So, Santa, what do I want for Christmas?
I would like to have whatever I needed to restore the confident feeling I felt in my bed as a child, knowing that tomorrow was Christmas and would be filled with magic.
I would like to have what brings the secure feeling of knowing my family was tucked away and safe from harm.
I would like to have the capacity to give so that the problems so many of my friends face could go away.
I would like a job.
But above all, and if I could only have one single thing, it would be this:
I would like to have the meaning of Christmas back, the way it used to be.
That's the end of my list Santa. I'll be seing you around, in the stores, but I doubt I'll visit you in a mall this year. There's really no need for me to go, you see, since I can't afford the things they sell.
But Christmas night, I'll be right here, looking up, knowing that somewhere, somehow, you are bringing magic.
Christmas is a holiday that persecutes the lonely, the frayed, and the rejected.