This is not a Santa and Cupid mashup, though I know the title makes it seem that way. I caught the end of The Polar Express earlier tonight and it made me think about how that movie really captures the magic of Christmas that comes with childhood. Sadly, I think it’s true that as we grow up most of us lose, if not the ability to hear the bell, the ability to hear it the same way.

I can so distinctly remember looking up at the sky at night as a little girl, trying to catch a glimpse of Santa’s sleigh…a mere bright speck against the darkness. In my mental scenario, there were always sleigh bells, faintly jingling from a great distance.

I believed, as only a child can.

However much I believed, the weirdly logical little kid I could be had questions. Chiefly among them was: How could Santa bring my presents, since we had no chimney? He always did, but how he got in really bothered me. A writer in the making, since my young life was a veritable chorus of “But HOW?” and “Why????”. My parents told me he came in thorough the keyhole in the front
door. When came the inevitable demand for technical specifications, they defaulted to the answer most kids will accept. Magic. Okay. I bought it well enough to ignore the niggling doubt that such a big guy could get through that tiny opening. Especially with all the presents I expected and usually got. When I woke up to the big boxes with the jolly one’s name on them, I was quite happy to tear into them, with hardly a calculating glance toward the front door.

Earlier this year I was chatting with an elderly couple while at McDonald’s with my computer. The conversation turned to what Christmas was like when they were children, which inevitably led to the no chimney question. That’s a bit surprising really, since I assumed every house back then had a chimney. A particular sparkle came to the old woman’s eyes as she smiled softly and told me how her parents handled the dreaded question. They told her that Santa Claus is made of love and love can always find a way in.

So simple. So perfect.

I suspect that for children of the Great Depression love may have been the mainstay of many Christmases. And I know from the childhood stories of elderly relatives that the smallest gift during those hard times were immensely treasured. That woman’s parents wisely gave the answer that children accustomed to small joys and abundant love could treasure along with their meagre holiday bounty.

So I wish for us all a day overflowing with joys big and small, the kind of love that always finds a way in…and the ability to hear at least the echo of remembered sleigh bells jingling from the sky.

Merry Christmas.