Saturday, December 11, 2004

Santa Unwrapped

I've been wrestling with a fat man, this guy with the jumbo-holiday that shrinks my free time down to zip and puts a half-nelson on my credit card. Nothing jolly about it - it's time to sweat the small stuff - the tree trimming, the holly hoarding, to the point of wanting to roast a few nuts over the fire. It's too much, but I can't stop until I've turned the exterior of my house into a giant lite-brite and baked cookies for half the county. I can't, and I won't....and I shouldn't.

Because I've found out Santa's secret, why he does what he does. I've attained the "runner's high" in holiday giving. Like a fruitcake that tastes good, my hosanah moment shocked the bell off my jingle. It came as I shopped for strangers, for a family I will never know, except that they needed Santa's help. And now I know why it's so great to be Santa, to swoop in and light a candle in the darkness, to light a spirit that was dulled.

Funny how the biggest warm fuzzies can happen at the coldest time of the year. Granted, here in Los Angeles, that's not saying much. I won't flaunt stories of wearing shorts while baking Christmas cookies or wrapping presents outside under the palm trees. But it's not the heat, it's the timidity. At the holidays, most people are so busy within their own lives that they seldom reach beyond to find, however hackneyed, overlooked and trampled, the true meaning of Christmas. And that's a shame, since it's often as close as a whisker, a neighbor, a friend of a friend. And the feeling of giving, that rush all Santas live for, is a plush, velvet glow that lights candles, hearths, and hearts.