I have always loved Santa. What is more wonderful than a character who is a symbol of love and joy.
I grew up in a Jewish household, and yet my parents never dissuaded me from hoping Santa would find me.
Chanukah was our holiday and like Christmas we anticipated gifts and special foods. My grandfather made elaborate puzzles for us to open; the heart of which was always a silver dollar. It was a festive time and I thought us lucky to enjoy the lights and merriment of Christmas in the community, as well as Chanukah at home with our family.
In those days, teachers were allowed to give little boxes of candy to children. Trees were decorated with paper chains in class rooms. We sang carols and no one objected. (of course we pledged allegiance to the flag every day and listened to psalms too.) It seemed to me that Christmas belonged to all of us when we were in school. I loved it.
I grew up in post WWII America. Manufactured good were now plentiful and the country was booming. My dad bought a new car and we were moving to the suburbs. I am not sure what prompted the question, but I did ask my parents if I might hang stockings on Christmas. Perhaps fearful that Santa might not find my new house, I still held out hope he would visit me, even if I was Jewish.
And just that one time, they said yes. And miracle of miracles.... he came. He found me! On Christmas morning, I rushed to the living room and my two stockings, hanging from our mantel, were each stuffed with a Raggedy Ann and Andy doll.
At some point, I must have figured that Santa was my Dad..but it didn't matter. We pretended together and that was just as good. What was spectacular was that he bent in my direction as an expression of love. Religion and tradition had nothing to do with it.
I do not have the original dolls, however the one pictured above was made for me by a friend. Ann sits on the shelf in my home office where she and Annie remind me that life is about hope, compromise and love.
No matter how educated we become and how cosmopolitan we think we may be, there is always a child inside. And that child should continue to believe in heroes. Santa lives!