Now welcoming all passengers on board

My eldest is completely and utterly besotted with the Christmas Spirit. He’s always liked Christmas, been a fan of the lights, and the presents, but this year, for whatever reason, has been particularly exciting for him. Perhaps it is because he, on some level, expects that the magic of Christmas might not be there next year. At least not at the same strength. He is in school now and exposed to any number of other children who may have already allowed simple belief to fall to the wayside of artificial maturity.

The Polar Express
The Polar Express (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When my mother-in-law told us that there was a nearby Polar Express event, we jumped at the opportunity to attend. Children and their adults are invited wear their pajamas in public on a decorated train car while staff serve hot chocolate and cookies. After a few Christmas carols, the ride culminates at the round house the staff refer to as the North Pole. Santa appears, giving a sleigh bell to a child. Then everyone is once again shepherded back into the warmth of the car to return to the original station. Just as you think the entire event is over, Santa makes his way through the rest of the car, greeting each passenger and bestowing upon them their own sleigh bell souvenir.

My son turned to me as we walked back toward the parking lot, and with a voice full of wonder announced, “I can’t believe we were at the North Pole!”

It was priceless.

On Monday, the woman who watches my youngest during the day (a terrific stay at home mom who had also watched my eldest from the week he began to crawl), asked how the event had gone. My son described it in epic detail. Later she asked my husband for more details. Clearly my eldest had sold her on the experience. How far away was the museum? What hotels were nearby? How were the people?

How were the people? What an odd sort of question. My husband likely shared the same puzzlement as I did when he told me about it.

She must have seen the confusion on his face. “No offense, but I know this sort of thing is something I know you don’t have to deal with, but I need to know. We’ve had to leave places before because of the people.”



I had no idea…

I guess that was kind of her point.

Did I mention that she is a terrific woman. Well that hardly begins to describe how great she has been with my family over the years. When my eldest was still in her care he once told me that he loved her more than me, and you know what? I was okay with it (mostly). She is the closest person to Mary Poppins I’ve ever met. If there was ever a person destined to care for children, she would be it. I completely credit her for helping to develop my children into the kind and generous individuals they are today (they’ve taught me, not the other way around). After less than stellar early results with daycare (story for another day), I flat-out won the lottery when I came across her ad.

For all those reasons, it was hard for me to imagine that there might be those who didn’t equally love her on sight. But I’d overlooked one thing. She, and her husband, are Iraqi immigrants (and now Americans). While I might know that they were forced to flee their homeland due to religious persecution (leaving family behind who remain to this day at risk), to many others they are Middle Eastern and therefore immediately suspicious.

There are things that she’s heard, and treatment her family has received that had they happened to me, I would likely raise a ruckus. It would be the headline on my personal eleven o’clock news. Everyone would know about it. But for her, the same event might not even be worth mentioning. I used to think that was because she was because she was just a nicer person than I am. Now I am realizing that she remains quiet because unfortunately it is her everyday (although that doesn’t change the fact that she still is a nicer person than I am – case in point: her worrying that she might be offending me).

So this Christmas, give the gift of the benefit of the doubt, peace, and acceptance. That family you see over there, the one that looks so different, maybe just maybe they too are just trying to capture the magic that is this season. Even if you can’t share a background, at least share a smile. It might make all the difference.

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All I want for Christmas is…

At my office we have a whiteboard which I’ve been using to detail exactly how many working days are left in the year as means of motivating my staff to complete their goals. As I was updating it on Friday, one of them joked with me that all I was doing was reminding him of his impending mortality. He was actually rather poetic about it. I however was not swayed – we have only a handful of days left after all and we still have goals to make (or miles to go before we sleep) and the large red number seems to get that message across nicely.

As I returned to my desk I realized that the same countdown applied to my Christmas shopping. Cue the look of stricken panic. I’ve only scratched the surface of my gift buying. (This is the downside of my refusing to have anything to do with Christmas until after Thanksgiving).

Once I was back at home, I scrolled through the saved wishlists of my family, almost all were filled with books, games, and toys for my nieces and nephews, and nearly nothing for their parents. I thought about my online wishlist. If anything, there was even less of me represented on that list than my sibling’s. (My kids claim to have been very, very good this year)

I am seriously beginning to wonder if my house is bugged because shortly after I made this realization I heard from both my stepmom and my sister-in-law. They both were pleading with me to add some additional items on there. My sister-in-law told me that if I didn’t, she would be getting me a zombie survival kit (little does she know that rather than being a threat, that if it wasn’t so expensive, that would sound awesome to me).

Ever since getting their notes, I have been thinking hard about what I want for Christmas, and I am no closer to adding things to the list than I was on Friday. The things I want don’t fit nicely in a box.

I want my husband’s business to grow with sustainability. I want my toddler to be potty trained over night and be willing to eat his vegetables (really is this so much to ask?). I want my kindergartener to continue to look at the world with the same joy next year as he does this year. I want my published book to sell and my unpublished book gain some buzz. I want to be able to take a vacation or work when and where I want to (at my same rate of pay of course). I want more of the things that add value to my life, moments that live on in memories. Above all I want us to be healthy and happy. I want a lot of things, but I don’t want many things.

So I apologize if I am now in the hard to buy category. A gift card. A bottle of wine. A book or three. I will be content knowing that I was thought of this holiday season. As soon as I figure out a way to fit my wishlist in a cart I will be the first to let you know.

Success and Happiness Quote
original image by Gray Lensman (flickr)