You’re gifted. Merry Christmas.

by P. Braithwaite

I believed in Santa Claus until I was 12.

I swear, I did.

Though my friends told me Santa wasn’t real, I refused to believe it. After all, each year I went to sleep with an empty tree and, each year, I woke up with a tree full of presents.

Year after year of granted wishes was evidence enough for me…you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Initially, I ignored the naysayers, but as testimonial mounted, I took my doubts to my mother:

” says there’s no Santa, is that true?”

“of course not,” Mom replied. “Santa is real.”

At first I just relied on my mother’s word, but as I got older, I asked logistical questions like “how does Santa get all those places in one night (this was before the days of NORAD)?”

When Santa suddenly went on a diet and started eating Weight Watchers meals instead of cookies…I should’ve known something was amiss. After a while it became ridiculous; willful ignorance. I just didn’t want to face the truth that perhaps Santa was my mom.

When my mom finally told me the truth, I , of course, was angry…but mostly I felt stupid. Stupid to have trusted something that didn’t make sense. Stupid to have believed in the face of overwhelming doubt.

Stupid that I looked so stupid in front of all my 12 year old friends.

Looking back, here’s what I’ve learned: I love to believe in the unknowable. Though it leads me to frequent disappointment, my innocence and my unwavering belief in magic are probably my best attributes. These two things allow me to see clearer than most — to see beyond what is in front of me, and to see invisible connections that most people wouldn’t see.

Santa Claus is magic. Magic is alchemy. Alchemy is transformation, and…transformation happens every single day.

By that logic…Santa Claus is real.

And so today, Christmas Day, someone should give you permission to believe in the impossible. Someone should inform you that… that thing you are ashamed of, the attribute you try to hide, is in fact your greatest earthly gift. In this season, often robbed of its religious implications, know that you, AS YOU ARE, are one of God’s greatest gifts. Even when you are naughty, but especially when you are nice….you are a unique and priceless treasure. You…at your best (and even at your worst) are the reason for this very expensive season.

It’s no coincidence that we celebrate the birth of Christ at a time when days are shortest, and the sun is farthest from the equator…

This holidays bears clear messages: even in our darkness there is immense and unwavering light. In our shadows, in the places we equate with death — Jesus, Mary and Joseph are doing the electric slide. We are never without light…everything we possess is a gift.

So hug yourself and smile at the icky parts. Hug the family members you’ve been fighting with all year. Remember Jesus, remember Santa, remember the Festavus feats of strength….

Because…everything…everything…everything…is a gift.

Merry Christmas.

Christmas challenge: Identify ONE overlooked aspect of yourself that is actually a gift. How can you give this gift of yourself in the upcoming year?