There is lore to Christmas in New York. The real city of lights brightens up a few trillion megawatts, streets are even busier, and somehow, there’s a spirit buzzing around this place is infectious. Almost everything we’ve all seen in holiday movies such as Scrooged, Home Alone 2, Miracle on 34th Street, and many others is very real; it’s nothing short of magic.
Instead of while I’m working, I look out at Manhattan from my office’s 17th floor and realize today is December 22, 2017. Today marks seven years since I found out I was having a daughter. I can’t help but juxtapose my life in 2010 and now. The first thing that comes to mind is a verse I wrote for my Christmas album that I never released or finished:
Ninja turtles, Sonic, and Mortal Kombat
Knicks gear, hockey jerseys, and all [of] that
My birthday’s on November 22
34 days ‘till Christmas and getting more presents
Doin’ what I gotta do, I’ll sacrifice
[So at the] last minute, Santa turns my name from naughty to nice
If he really checks twice
Charlie Brown, cartoons made of clay
Santa’s sleigh…it was hard to stay awake
The present day, well, it’s okay
It’ll pick up next year with my one on the way
I pray a few more, my grandmas’ll stay
So my kids’ll see them all in pics, “That’s grandma” they’ll say
It ain’t the same with everybody turning gray
Or gone on and us becoming our parents by the day
And yeah, I know that Santa is fake
But I’ll believe if he brings me something…for old time’s sake
Looking back, that verse was written by a 25 year old who optimistically and idealistically hoped for a better future through a fairly realistic lens. Less than three months from parenthood, I had no idea what to expect; all I could do was simply throw out into the universe what I would like. I was leaning on my recollection of childhood merriment to get me through a transitional period.
In spite of life turning out very differently, Christmas is way more fun than it has ever been. The “one on the way” I rapped about is now a first grader who loves to read, eat fruits and vegetables, and get into any and everything.
Cydney Milner is the age where she believes in magic. To her, Santa Claus is very real and the Elf on the Shelf is watching her every move. That little girl cannot wait until Monday morning when she can run down the stairs and see what St. Nick brought for her and the missing snacks she left for him.
It’s probably very fucked up that all of us parents lie to our children…and go out of our way to do it on Christmas. When put very bluntly, that’s exactly what we’re doing; but so what?
I have friends who have said they don’t think they would tell their children about Santa Claus. All of nuances that turn a dark and cold time of year into wonder. I wholeheartedly disagree with all of that. If we’re lucky, we spend most of our lives being adults. If you live to be 80, only 13 of those are years of innocence, five years to transition, another 10 to formulate, rectify, and reconcile one’s ideals while being selfish, and the other 50 is life continuously kicking you in the nuts.
Santa Claus just might Cydney’s first applicable lesson in faith. If my child really gave it some thought, none of what looks forward to on Christmas Day makes logical sense. A fat man, guided by roadkill, giving every child in the world presents in one night. Yet in spite of this defying logic, she still believes. She has seen Santa Claus at least four times in the past four weeks in different locations and none of them look the same; doesn’t matter. All she knows is that if she acts right, that guy is coming to bless her with all of her heart’s desires: LOL Surprise Dolls.
One day, Cyd will find out her mother died around the holidays and that might be a very difficult pill to swallow. However, she will look back and think about the amount of effort her father and grandmother (the real MVP) put into making that time of year-and her life-something as magical as the city she grew up in. Those fond memories will be so lodged in her mind; she will never be too cynical.
As awesome as her childhood Christmas memories will be, Cydney will eventually experience something greater: the joy of seeing her children believe in magic…or learning to have faith and how it actually works.