I went to see Santa today.
It had been a long time since I had gone to see Santa.
For many years after Donny’s accident I would go visit Santa, have my photo taken, and frame the photo or photos with a letter to my wife that was meant to cheer her up.
It would always be the first gift of Christmas.
As the years went by and things got more hectic and wall space began to run low, I stopped.
Eventually after some downsizing and renovations those framed items were taken down from the walls and stored somewhere in the chance that someday one or all of my kids would remember and want one or two.
Not only did I have my picture taken with Santa, most of those photos were taken with the same Santa, who I got to know over the years and he even looked forward to seeing me come back each year.
I don’t remember if I have shared this story before and I apologize if I am repeating myself. I have learned that repeating yourself is just a part of growing older, which I am.
But Christmas is about memories, those that we pull out of boxes each year or put in picture frames; and those that we work so hard to plan for so we can create new ones that we hope will be engraved in the memories of our kids and now our grand kids.
That is what visiting Santa did for me each year, he created a memory for me, for my wife, and after a few years for him too.
But Kim and I had already begun to create some memories for this holiday season.
It started by spending Thanksgiving with Ethan and Christian in Florida. Oh yeah and Alexa and Namaan were there too.
Then upon returning home, my wife went on a tear and decided that in order to make better memories for the kids who were all going to be here for Christmas this year, we needed to create fun space by downsizing even more and renovating the basement. That meant I had to take apart my office one piece at a time and put it in bins and boxes to be moved elsewhere while the new floor was installed and the painting done.
And just like opening boxes of Christmas memories each year, this task made me touch a lot of things I hadn’t picked up in a long time like:
My photo of Donny grinning and holding up his ticket at our Monmouth Park wedding reception; my sterling silver guitar pick with “Pop Pop” engraved on it; the card and letter from my wife for our tenth anniversary with our tickets to the Kentucky Derby.
Haskell hats, and Derby hats, and glasses, and more photos; guitars and vintage harmonicas; “The Little Chickens” Blizzard Blend wine bottled during a snowstorm when we were all stuck together in the house. All of it brought me back to some place and time…and then it got put in a box.
And though the whole thing really stressed me out, at the time my wife said to me “when this is all done, you will say ‘Thank You Honey.’”
Next up, was a trip with Cameron to see Santa on a Polar Express like train ride (the Northern Express) from Cumberland to Frostburg, Maryland and back that was an awesome day and a forever memory.
The next day I put up the really nice artificial Christmas tree with the lights already built in that I picked up really cheap at the yard sale. And in typical Christiansen curse fashion only the middle section lights worked…well, so I save some money on the electric I guess.
And then today I get the idea that it might be nice to go visit my Santa friend again.
So I went, but sadly my Santa friend was not there anymore and hadn’t been there for a couple of years according to the girl I spoke with at the desk. The last time I had stopped to check on him I was told he had taken that year off because his wife was very sick. I am hoping he and Mrs. Claus are well and reclining on a beach on the west coast of Florida right now.
My new Santa was okay of course but since there were so many other kids waiting impatiently in line to see Santa (oh…and they had reservations!) I didn’t have too much time in the chair so I didn’t get to tell him what I wanted for Christmas.
But If I could have I would have told him I wanted this Christmas to be more special than any other before.
That I wanted to spend quality time with my grandchildren;
That I wanted to enjoy the company of my kids and family and friends;
That I wanted my wife to have the happiest Christmas ever;
And that most of all I wanted some young kid to show me how to use the new Xbox One in the new basement.
Time goes on and age changes us all; Santa Clauses retire, and technology leaves me standing in front of a massive TV flailing my arms to no result. And even as I write this, I am dribbling oatmeal on my sweater.
Though once again it has been a year of change for my family, God has been good.
And to my wife I must say I am not going to write you a letter this year and put it in a frame with my new Santa photo, have it be the first gift of Christmas, then hang it on the wall.
But I am going to say, “Thank you Honey.”
For all those Christmases and all those memories.
Let’s hope that time allows us to enjoy many more.
And to all of you out there I hope your Christmas season has been as good as mine.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from my family to yours.
Kim and Curt
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17