Thursday, December 25, 2008
Belated love letter
Dear Father Christmas,
It has been many years since I wrote you directly, but I was reminded of you this whole week - it's the snow drifts, reminding me of long ago Christmases in Minnesota, where I wrote you often with hope and anticipation. I remember the year we actually met, or at least I saw your back as you left the darkened area where our Christmas tree stood. The adults and my brother did not believe I had seen you - but to this day, I knew it was you. After all, your boots left huge imprints in the thick rug in our house, and the next day I had what I felt was perfect proof- after laying out everyone's shoes in the imprints,all were meek compared to your large feet.
I remember I wrote you every year and always asked for a horse. Each year, you always came through with many of the things on my list. I knew that the gifts I requested had to go through a thorough review and many gifts were deemed redundant, unnecessary or simply weren't available.
But every year I asked for a horse, and you never brought me one. Oh, you did bring china horses, wood horses, horse dolls, horse books, horse boots and riding lessons, and horse sketch books. I began to feel your magic had waned, that perhaps you were overworked, or even bored with your position as chief gift giver. I even wrote a letter telling you that my third grade friend said you were a fake, but I told her you were not a fake, and I would prove it to her when you brought me a horse that year. Fortunately, she moved away before Christmas, and I did not have to face her at the Christmas parade on two feet, versus in my saddle. It was then I quit writing to you.
But I never stopped thinking of you. And when Martyn and I [yes, I did finally marry even though I wrote you once I would never marry] walked down the 1/4 mile drive yesterday in the 20" of snow, we heard not a truck, human, or even af farm animal, only the faint droppings of large snowflakes on our clothes. But off in the distance, I heard bells, like jingle bells. As we walked in giant high steps closer to the main road, the bells came closer, until out of the cloudy distance came a sleigh, pulled by two horses. It was a nearby farmer, delivering hay to his cows in the only way he could, by Percheron pulled sleigh.
We stopped and chatted and they went on their way, bells slowly becoming more distant as they sled down the road. As we made our way back to the house, with smoke coming out the chimney, and the barns all buried in snow cocoons, sleeping cats waiting by a fire, and I knew I had to write you a long overdo letter.
I never quit loving you, Father Christmas, even though my letters stopped long ago. I read once that the magic deposited by Father Christmas never leaves a child even as they turn into an adult. Some have forgotten just how powerful Father Christmas magic is, and have buried it deep inside, covering it with cynicism, or material quests that defeat the real purpose of giving and receiving. And as I stood with my horse during his morning feeding, I leaned into his massive body and took in his equine smells. While physically it was heat rising from his body into the cool air, I knew without a doubt it was really you, Father Christmas. I could hear the voice I used to hear in childhood slumber, "My child, I did get you that horse, it just took awhile."