Few evenings back, after an afternoon spent together with friends, playing in the park till about 19.30, Chiara, a little 7 year old friend of my son’s, refused to get in the car and go home. She was having fun, didn’t want the evening to end, plus her little brother was sleeping at a friend’s that night and felt it was only unfair to her, she couldn’t do the same.
Her mom tried to tell the child it was time, Joe (my 6 years old) tried too, Maryanne… another friend of hers, and Joe’s dad – Mitch, they all tried to convince her to get in the car. Make her understand we were all going away and that we could arrange to meet again another day, but she persisted, running away, sitting on a bench, then on the grass, always further away from us, screaming: “Go! I’l stay here!”
I said: “It’s my turn to try!” Joe came along with me, asked if I could talk to her and she said yes, so I sat next to her, Joe stood besides us. She looked so sad that felt like embracing her… yet something else inside me said not to, so keeping a little distance, I started like this: “You know Chiara, your mom is quite tired, she thinks you two should head home now, and she is sad because you two don’t feel the same way!” And I know that technically what I said could have produced some guilt-trip or something, I could have said it differently, but the vibe wasn’t aimed at producing anything of the sort. Chiara’s eyes were full of tears and begun describing me how she felt, so I learnt she sleeps in the same room with her younger brother, and that night her brother would be away so she was scared of the chance she’l wake up in the middle of the night only to realize he wasn’t next to her, as she would expect!
I could have tried to make it “alright”, comfort her and say: “don’t you worry, your mom will be there!” but I didn’t do that, I felt the need to know more about her room, and asked her: “Do you have a night lamp in your room or sleep in the dark?” And answered me she indeed has one and that is blue, wrapped with little Christmas lights all around. She showed me how tall this lamp is, how wide, I could practically see it, her description was formidable! But was caught by the Christmas lights she mentioned because also me and Joe have Christmas lights at home, although it isn’t Christmas time any longer.
Joe took over the conversation and described how we not only have Christmas lights but also the tree, that we keep it lit and decorated all through the year until few days before Christmas day, when we remove all the ornaments put them in a box along with some new handmade ones and on Christmas Eve, Santa, magically comes and decorates the tree for us!
Chiara suddenly put her hand into mine, just like that, the discussion went on about this Christmas gift Joe got from Santa, the wooden train and the Santa vest for him to wear and bring gifts to the refugee camp’ children, to the grandparents and aunts…
“Yes – I said – The magic and beauty in Santa Claus isn’t all about receiving gifts, but also about giving them, there is great excitement and pleasure in it!” And an idea came: “Do you still have the Christmas tree at home Chiara?” And Chiara said “Yes! In the living-room”…”Perfect! Why don’t you sleep next to the Christmas tree tonight?” It seamed quite odd to her and funny, she smiled! But I was serious: “You know Chiara, all year round, Santa Claus keeps doing his magic in the house!” She lost me there: “How?”…”Well! You see how Santa Claus is all about making and delivering gifts for the people to rejoice receiving them, right? – she nodded at me – OK! When mom prepares meals in the kitchen and serves them ready at the table, what are they, if not gifts? …When you and your brother play happily, your smiles, those are gifts too, to everyone around watching!” She seamed relieved, to my eyes, longing to hear words that could soften her inside, make her warm, I could sense she felt better.
A little later, after Joe invited her to come at the party he is planning to have at the “Chocolate Factory”, where they’l bathe in the chocolate fountain (Joe’s dream – not happening) she laughed explicitly adding: “Yes! And after bathing we’l dry ourselves licking our arms and legs!”. I stood up: “Its time to go now!” And Chiara was ready and we all went our separate ways, with no pressure, promising to call each other the next morning to share stories of the dreams had under our trees!
I guess some might say it is improper to speak of Santa, since he “doesn’t exist”, but lately I tend to disagree… Sure! The form, the shape, the imagery that comes with Santa because of the movies, the books and all, might not be true, but… “Santa Claus” is just a symbolic figure, a name that represents “pleasure in sharing”, and this pleasure is true, it exists everywhere all around the globe, at every time of the year, and this much is proven by every smile, every embrace, every tenderness you, me, anyone witnesses and experiences… In this sense, Santa helped me and Joe on that evening. Was there sharing pleasantly that moment with Chiara, and is also here sharing it with you today!
Thank you Joe and Santa for helping me, help Chiara… 🙂
And thank you, for reading!