Dear Santa, Shares Smiles

Oh, the wonders of Christmas that whirl about us. Everyone finds something that makes them marvel at such wonder. For some it is snow on the ground, as here we hardly get any. For others it is lights that string what seems like forever. I’ve seen others in Dallas, Texas staring at the Christmas tree in the middle of the mall centered in a skating rink. For me, it is a line of children, waiting to get their photograph taken with Santa. Simple, you might think. As for me, it is a picture of realism, fiction and imagination, with a touch of innocence all wrapped up in a moment you can’t get back.

I never had my picture made with Santa. Then again, my mother had Sheri and me that everyone we did not know was an axe murderer or a potential child abductor. And Santa wasn’t real at all he was just some man sitting up there waiting to add you to his collection of children to come after. My mother quite easily took the imagination out of everything and replaced it with realism and potential thoughts that led to fear in the minds of children our age.

I look back and think of all of the things my mother told me and I think about the reality of the way things are now. The Pew Research Center completed a study on people today and yesterday, ages 18-24 showed that the wealth gap between America’s young and old is now at its widest point ever. The State of Young America Poll was asked the age group 18-34, about their generation, and they believed their generation to be worse off than their parents.

Adults are seeing the high unemployment, the housing market going into a slump, and the rising costs for college tuition, rents, medical coverage and child care. Young people are now facing these tough hurdles and having to overcome freedom and independent adult life to a few more years so that they can make it without inflated student loan debts, increased rent with longer leases, and for those who are fresh out of college and ready to start a life either as a single or as a couple, the future isn’t quite as bright. Some college graduates are working two jobs to make ends meet or one job out of their field just to pay the bills.  The American Dream can be achieved, is what some people are saying, but for others, the future is a little bleak at times.

What are the experts saying?  Take out as least as you can on student loans. If you don’t have to leave home, don’t. Stay home a little longer and invest that extra money you are making from your side job into other causes. Learn how to budget for a home, while you are at home. Most people these days are waiting until they are 25 to leave home. Why? Because they are on to what others have found. They are looking to find a way to manage their money, so they are not in debt when they are on their own with a wife or a husband, trying to raise kids, and save money to take those little vacations you will need with stress gets high at work. You will want to load the car up or take a plane and take the family and go on a vacation somewhere. You want to be able to do this and not have to worry about expenses when you return because you have budgeted for it.     Oh, and don’t forget about Christmas. Take those kids to the mall. Take them and tell them the stories of St. Nicholas. Tell them about the three wise men. Tell them about the picture you want every year as they grow up and get too old to sit on Santa’s knee, but never too old to ask for Christmas presents.            

I know last year, Sheri and I took the whole crew for Christmas pictures for my parents or Christmas. Cameron, he is a stem-winder, was running around and Sheri was about to have to take him out, when all of a sudden the most gracious and polite man sat down beside me. He spoke with me for a few moments. It was at that time Sheri noticed Cameron was quietly sitting. She had his hand and he was pulling back, then she noticed he was staring at the new visitor, Santa Claus. He saw Allyson stroking his beard and how she jerked back and giggled when she realized it was real.

They called us next, so I told Santa thank you, his family would make a lovely photo. He told me mine would as well. As we started in, Santa gave Jessica, Sheri, Cameron, Eugene, and Allyson a piece of peppermint. Cameron said, “Hey Santa, you forgot to give Aunt B one.” Santa smiled, touched his finger to his nose and said “Aunt B doesn’t eat peppermints.” I smiled and looked at Cameron, and said, “Santa remembers everything Cameron.”

         Published December 8, 2011, Ruston Daily Leader, The Park Bench.

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