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Santa Is Real

(by Ashley Stump)

My family has always made a huge deal of Christmas. My mum has always said to me, even as an adult, that Santa is real. One day I asked why she perpetuates this notion, when of course she knows that it is a myth for the anticipation and delight of children. “Because it keeps the spirit and magic of Christmas alive,” she said. And she’s right.

As I was growing up in Essex, England, Mum’s Christmases were legendary. She’s a perfectionist, and would always take a week off from her job in human resources to get everything done. Starting on December 24th, she was awake at the crack of dawn preparing the food. As the day progressed, the scent of allspice and cinnamon from mulled wine would waft through the house. I always offered to help, and she would give me small jobs to do, but it always ended with me nibbling on the irresistible food until she told me to bugger off out the kitchen. I would oblige, taking my mulled wine to the lounge, sitting in front of the fireplace and watching "A Christmas Carol" with my brother. (Dad offered another set of hands in the kitchen but also snuck off for a beer break whenever possible.) And on Christmas day, Mom was up again before sunrise, taking only a brief respite from the kitchen to open presents.

Actually, she never really liked Christmas dinner. All that hard work just so everyone else could have a delicious meal. But she loves watching our faces as we dig in and revel in the food she has made for us. That spirit of love and giving is what Christmas is about.