Category Archives: yule

Why Santa Matters

Hanging with Santa Claus in Berlin, 1990.
Hanging with Santa Claus in Berlin, 1990.

I remember the year I realized that Santa wasn’t real. It was the year we had moved to Colorado Springs from Syracuse and I must have been 7 or 8. It was the first time I’d witnessed a Christmas without snow, so naturally I asked my dad how Santa would land on the roof. Without missing a beat he said Santa put roller skate wheels on the bottom of the sleigh. Later, I found wrapping paper in my parents’ closet that was the exact same paper that had covered the box containing my Pocahontas talking Grandmother Willow bank. When I asked about this, dad said that sometimes Santa got too busy to wrap presents, so he would drop them off and ask the parents to wrap them for him. He tried so hard to keep that one going, but it was pretty much over for me at that point.

The strange thing was, though I realized he wasn’t real, it didn’t mean that I stopped believing in him. The older I got, the more I identified with Santa. Or the spirit of him, I guess. I came from a family of atheists, so Christmas has nothing to do with the birth of any deity figure for me. As a loose follower of the ancient Celtic religion, I celebrate this time of year as Yuletide and the passing of midwinter, one of the origins of modern-day Christmas. But growing up, Christmas was about Santa Claus and celebrating family, friends, good food, and yes, gift-giving. It’s not all about the gifts, and I think it’s important to instill that in our children–in fact, one of my pet-peeves is when people ask what I want for Christmas or worse, tell me what they want for Christmas–in my book, gifts should come from the heart and you should appreciate that the giver took the time to think of you in the giving of it. Christmas is not a time to ask carte blanche for cash. You know all the Whos down in Whoville who loved Christmas just because it brought people together and it was a time to love one another and spread joy? That was my family. Our house was decorated warmly and festively and it was, like the song says, the most wonderful time of the year. Still is.

And that’s why I’m continuing the Santa tradition with Caroline. Since we don’t celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus, I want to give her something to believe in during this season. Lately I’ve read a lot of other bloggers who seem to hate the idea of introducing Santa to our kids. A lot of people seem to think it’s about the worst lie you could possibly peddle to your kids and I think that’s ridiculous. What’s wrong with Santa? What’s wrong with getting our kids to believe in magic and create a sense of wonder in them? So what if it’s not real, so what if some day they’re going to find out. If you’ve done it “right”, it shouldn’t matter, because they will still believe in the magic and the spirit of Christmas.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. You know the story of The Polar Express? The boy who finds himself doubting Santa until he meets him and receives the sleigh bell which will only ring for people who believe in Santa and the magic of Christmas? The adults can’t hear it, but he always does, because he believes. My dad still hears that bell. 58 years old and he can still hear that bell. Which means that I do too. 

And I hope Caroline always will, too.

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2012 Highlights

Well, we’ve come to the end of the world the year. The solstice is here and now the world begins to turn back toward the sunlight and the coming of spring. (Which is why I much prefer the notion of today being midwinter instead of the first day of winter!) Guess it’s about time to give a little recap of the year maybe!

2012 came in snowy, cold, and windy here in Estes Park. We spent a lot of time up in the Park snowshoeing and exploring. Here’s the highlights of the year!

In late January, we brought Sherlock home from the shelter.

In early February we went on a short vacation to Ouray (near Telluride) in the San Juans and it was AWESOME! We spent time at the hot springs and we got to go sledding and snow mobiling in the mountains (well, for a little, till Cameron dumped the snow mobile in 16 feet of powder). We also got to go on a zip line! It was so much fun.

Standing on the side of the Million Dollar Highway outside Ouray
Snow Catting in the San Juans before we took the most epic sled ride of our lives

Snowshoeing at Cub Lake

In March, Cameron shaved his head for St. Baldrick’s. Scary!

In July we bought a house! We were able to move from our 600-sq ft cabin into our very first, very own 1600-sq ft house.

Over the summer I got to see Florence and the Machine (birthday gift from Cameron) and Mumford & Sons at Red Rocks Amphitheater. AMAZING.

September brought a trip to Santa Fe to visit the renaissance festival there. One of my favorites!

In October, of course, we ate candy. Just kidding–we got married!

Right after the wedding, I got an offer from a literary agency to represent me and my book.

This year was my first Thanksgiving! It was nummy.

Mom approved.

Some other photo highlights, in no particular order:

Saints versus Broncos

Colorado Renaissance Festival

Hiking Lily Mountain

Christmas cookie party

Home renovations

Playing Lady Macbeth for an acting class (wish I’d gotten to do the whole show)

Samhain festivities

Sugar Skull Dancer and Queen of the Ravens

Singing with the Oratorio Society of Estes Park

My 24th birthday

Cameron’s 29th birthday

Hard to believe that 2013 is already upon us. We are leaving almost immediately as the new year comes in and heading to Hawaii for 3. Whole. Weeks. Good lordy I can’t wait to be a beach bum for a while. We are also hoping that 2013 might include a mini Carruthers joining the family–keep your fingers crossed for us!

Christmas Questionnaire

When do you start decorating for Christmas?
The weekend after Thanksgiving. (i.e. Black Friday) They come down New Year’s Day! (or shortly thereafter)
Christmas attire, casual or dressy?
Depends on the event!
Best gift you ever received?
Oh man…I dunno! I got an iPod one year that was the bomb.
Worst gift you ever received?
A used pair of earrings.
Snow, love or hate?
Favorite Christmas song? Least favorite?
Carol of the Bells is my favorite. I loathe “Santa Baby.” Yuck.
Best Christmas movie? Worst?
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I don’t know if it’s the worst Christmas movie, but the cartoon Frosty the Snowman is really creepy.
Christmas tree, real or fake?
We haven’t had a real tree since I was probably 12 or 13. I wouldn’t even know how to take care of one! Plus, buying a pre-lit tree is pretty swell.
Do you have a favorite ornament?
Cameron and I get a new ornament every year. At my parents’ house, my favorite ornament is the one of Lt. Worf in the….ship whose name I cannot recall for the life of me. It’s right on the tip of my tongue. Anyway, when you press the button, Worf says, “I wish you a most honorable holiday. Kaplak.” Yeah, we’re Trek nerds.
Family traditions?
My parents have a big to-do on Christmas Eve every year. Family and friends come over and we have snacks and drinks and my mom plays Santa and gives everyone a small gift. Usually after that party the family watches the George C. Scott version of “A Christmas Carol.” On Christmas morning we open presents and then have breakfast, and then we have a big dinner later that day. Recently Cameron and I have started the tradition of watching “Forrest Gump” every Christmas Day after opening presents.
The easiest and hardest people to buy gifts for?
I actually kind of pride myself on coming up thoughtful gifts for people even if it’s not exactly what they “wanted.” But that’s what makes Christmas special, to me. I kind of hate it when people ask what you want and get you exactly that. I love surprises and surprising people by being thoughtful.
Do you open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas?
Christmas. Usually we get a small gift on Christmas Eve from my mom, and if we have family over, presents from those family members will be opened that night since we might not see them the next morning.
Clear or colored lights?
White lights for the house. But I love putting colored lights on the tree.
Travel or stay home?
I’ve always preferred to be home on Christmas.
Themed or homey decorations?
Homey decorations with a motif! I, for example, have a reindeer motif along with all my other decorations.

Christmastime is Here

Nothing in particular to write about tonight, but I thought I’d share some pictures of our abode as we prepare for Christmas.

Taken before I bought a larger tartan tree skirt

Whiskey does not appreciate our Christmas shenanigans
Holiday party
Sherlock doesn’t understand sitting pretty for holiday photos

My favorite holiday event is coming up in about 2 weeks; the annual Yule/Solstice Celebration in Denver. I missed it last year and it really bummed me out. I’m excited to dance and participate in the Yule ritual and say goodbye to the short winter days and lay out wishes and hopes for the return of daylight. Very excited.

Also keep your fingers crossed–looks like we’ll be getting a little snow between now and Sunday. We need it so badly!