(Originally published in 2009…there is a wee update at the end…thank you in advance for reading our story.)
(Christmas Past…) Party Girl Returns! I’ve been missing from Blogland for a bit because I’ve been a special guest (as in the only guest) at a huge party. Family and friends may tell you that I have a talent for throwing awesome parties. As mentioned, I was the only guest (hooray for me!) and may I say it was a doozy! Maybe you’ve even been to one of these fabulous special occasions? It’s called the Pity Party. (I would have made it even more fabulous, but this happened before I discovered Pinterest…can you imagine how fantabulous it might have been if I were to have Pinterest at my disposal then???)
I really threw myself into the festivities because after all, everyone loves a good Pity Party. I dressed up in my special Pity Party attire of comfy sweats, hoodie and tee (all black, of course.) I ate Frownies…chocolate Frownies because no Pity Party is complete without chocolate. I played sad music. I grumbled and griped at everyone I know. I even let my nerve endings blow out into a full bout of shingles! I know how to throw a good party! I honestly thought this party was going to last forever…that is, until my daughter made Santa Claus cry. Yep, nothing like Santa’s tears to stop a good Pity Party in it’s tracks.
It all started at the mall. Since it was mid November, I figured it was still too early for Santa to be hanging out at his usual spot in the center court area. Boy howdy, was I wrong! Not only was Santa there, but he brought lots of elves, a postal center for North Pole mailings, a naughty/nice meter and paparazzi! According to the sign above, it was “Santastic!” Catherine was in holiday heaven!
She starts tugging on my Pity Party clothes and dragging me toward Santa. “But you aren’t wearing your Christmas outfit!” I whined. “Let’s come back when you have it on.”
“Mommy, Santa will like my rockstar dress…trust me, it’s fine,” she says in her adorable 6 year old voice. She continues dragging me toward the elfin paparazzi. I just sighed, and we hit the red carpet toward Santa.
Catherine climbed on Santa’s lap and very intently began to roll out “the list.” She was so serious that the elf photographer took an extra photo and didn’t even charge me for it. (There’s a Christmas miracle for you right there…) “That’s a keeper!” said the elf. Finally, she and Santa smiled for the elf for the “official” photo and “pop” went the flash. We wandered over to where the photos were printed to wait.
Suddenly, Santa appeared and knelt down next to Catherine. “You have the purest heart of any child I’ve ever met. I hope all of your Christmas wishes comes true.” He gave her a big hug. “And thank you, for sharing your wish with me, Catherine.” Then he stood and I saw tears in his eyes. He grasped my hands and said, “I’ve been doing this for many years. I really felt like this was my last year. Children seem so caught up in the material world and some can be pretty demanding.” He smiled and continued..”Your daughter didn’t ask me for toys. She told me her daddy was very sick. She asked if I could give her more Christmas seasons with her Daddy before he had to go to Heaven.” He gave me a hug. Of course, my Pity Party ended right there on the spot. I became a blubbery mess all over Santa and his red suit. I scooped up my darling girl and smothered her with hugs and smoochies.
Santa patted my shoulder. “I think I’m going to stick around the North Pole a while longer now,” he smiled and started back toward his chair. Catherine ran up to him and gently tugged on his jacket. He bent down and she whispered (really loudly), “Oh, and can you bring me the Powerpuff Girls dolls?” He winked at her and looked at me. I gave him the thumbs up. “I’ll see what I can do!” he smiled, hugged her again and went back to greet the other children. The elf photographer stood there with tears streaming down his face too. He just handed me our photos and said, “Merry Christmas, ma’am. Please accept these as a gift from the elves.” He pointed to the other “elves” at the photo station who were all in tears as well. We all shared a group hug and were so very moved by the photos. Here they are…(and yes, Cat…Santa loved your “rockstar” dress…)
(Christmas Present…) Fast forward to 2014…If you include that Christmas in 2009, Smitty lived for four more Christmas holidays after that visit with Santa. In 2012, we celebrated our last Christmas with him. Two days later on December 27, he passed away peacefully in his sleep at the hospital. Christmas Day 2012 was the last day we spent together in our home as a family as he was hospitalized on December 26. It was a bittersweet day as his health was clearly failing, but he was full of jokes and laughter. We spent the afternoon watching “Christmas Vacation” and “A Christmas Story”…his two favorite holiday films. We were curled up together, all four of us, laughing, snuggling and drinking hot cocoa. It could not have been a more perfect day.
The irony of that visit with Santa in 2009 was that Catherine had never been told anything about her dad suffering from terminal illness. She just intuitively sensed that time was of the essence. She helped me to remember that we must celebrate every season…fill it with happy memories…give each other all of our love with joy, not fill ourselves up with the sadness of what might have been. She also reminded me of the magic of the season…where hope lives and faith abounds.
As we move into the holiday season, I wish you all days filled with laughter, shared happy memories and the creation of new traditions while honoring old ones. We will be doing just that this year as we celebrate our first Christmas with a very special someone who most assuredly was sent from Smitty in Heaven to bring joy back into our lives. (don’t worry, Smitty…we promise we will remember that Santa LOVES Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip Cookies the best…) May you all find comfort and joy during this happiest of holiday seasons. Wishing you all the Merriest of Merry Christmas days!