I believed in Santa Claus longer than most kids, supported by my older cousin who pretended for my sake while I pretended for hers. Finally, we confessed to each other and suddenly the magic was gone. No more reindeer on the roof, no more cookies by the fireplace.
For the next couple of years, Christmas seemed spoiled. I went through the motions—but now I knew that all the gifts came from my parents and always had.
I complained to my mother who had no sympathy. “I think you’re old enough to focus on others,” she said. “Not yourself.” That didn’t sound like fun. Still, I decided to find a gift for her that was more creative than the annual linen handkerchief she received from dad.
And when I found the painted wooden box, I couldn’t wait for her to open it. This was better than reindeer on the roof—and finally, I understood what Christmas was really about.
And what growing up was about, too. It was about discovering why giving is so much better than getting. Instead of believing in Santa, I had to become a Santa—to listen to what others wanted and try to deliver it. Reliably, generously, joyfully.
Cookies were just a bonus.