Sunday, December 25, 2011

An Anniversary of Magic

Ahh, it's that time of the year again.

I think –– and my readers will probably agree with me when I say this –– that I'm not really the type to write sentimental thank-you notes on my blog. There are three main reasons for this, and they are as follows:

One, I'm a teenager, and teenagers behind computers don't thank, we just take.
Two, I've been told many times that blog readers hate reading sentimental thank-yous, and
Three, I can never figure out exactly how to word it.

With my competencies aside, however, there is a forth, and fundamental, reason to it all: If I began, I'll never be able to finish. I owe my life, who I am today, who I will become tomorrow, to many, many people. Those who have met me, those who I have met. Those who have shared with me a mere fraction of their lifetime, in a fleeting glance as we cross paths on the street. Those who have given me their touch, their warmth, their voice.
If I had a penny for every person who I needed to thank, I would be rich, if only I could manage to thank them all.

I've decided to collect some of those pennies today.
Yet, a mere word of thanks is not enough.

Instead, let me tell you a story.

My first encounter with Santa Claus was during my sixth year in society, and it was nothing short of magical. It was a month after I moved continents and began my new life in a western country. Before that, St. Nicholas was unheard of. Christmas was unheard of. Snow was ... pretty rare too. We (my parents and I) had rented out a single room in the basement of a house. A temporary residence, like the many others we would have before we could save enough of this new currency to settle down. It was a week before Christmas, but it came –– he came –– all the same. From the pictures and decorations at school, and from the stories told by my parents, I had somehow managed to gain a loose understanding of Santa and his occupation: he comes to houses at night on the 24th and leaves presents under a tree or in a stocking, before disappearing with a few cookies and a cup of milk. Back then, I didn't expect anything from him. I was new to the country. Plus, he has too many children to look after already, he couldn't have noticed me. Never mind the goodness or badness, I probably wasn't even on his list of children! Even if I were, I had nowhere for him to leave presents. I wasn't ready.

But he knew I wasn't ready.
And that's all it took.

It was a fleeting moment. A tinkering of sleigh-bells, leaving behind naught but a Christmas stocking on the kitchen counter. It was addressed to me.

Of course, he came back later that week at the appointed time, with everything on my wish list (2 candy canes and a bouncy ball), but I was already sold.

From then on, Santa and I had a love-hate, one-way relationship. Every once in a while, he would get my wish-list wrong (the toy was in the wrong colour, or it wasn't the exact model I wanted). Even with his occasional mess-ups, I still had full trust in him. He was my reason for trudging through the snow to school in sub-sub-zero degree temperatures, and he was my reason for doing my homework. Around December, I practically lived for him. I would be on my very best behaviour as I waited patiently for his arrival. Even as we grew and my classmates started falling out with the old man, I kept my belief of him firm and definite. He existed. He was magical. He had proven that to me, and to me alone.

"What goes up, must come down", and the higher up you go, the faster you'll fall.

I lost my trust for him the year Christmas failed to come to our house. I was 13.
Looking back, it wasn't really his fault. I never wrote him a letter that year. We were going through a "phase" that any family –– any household –– will undoubtedly live through. A turning point, if you will. The erupting of a volcano that had been long overdue. A family of personal crises.

I cried that night. It felt as if the world ended.
But the next morning, the sun still rose, and life continued.

And life, continued...

I am now sixteen. Ten years have passed since my first magical encounter. Three years since its death.
I am now sixteen, and as I write this, I have just finished wrapping Santa's presents for my six-year-old brother, fed a carrot to an imaginary reindeer, and returned the cookies and milk to their containers.

As I marvel at how easily and quickly I have shifted from the receiving end to the giving end of things, I come to one, tremendous realization. My brother will never be able to experience the magic of Christmas the way it was meant to be experienced. He was born into this country and its culture. Not introduced. Miracles do not happen for those who already have them.

My brother may never believe. Maybe he already doesn't.
But I still do. And I still will. No longer as a child, but as his helper. His Christmas elf.

So, today, I'd like to say thank you to the first person who's encounter was monumental enough to be forever etched into the memory of my six-year-old, extremely ditsy self:

Thank You, Santa.
Wherever you are.

I've grown, Santa.
Have you been watching?

Merry Christmas, Santa.
Merry Christmas, a thousand times over.