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As I’ve mentioned here before, my parents were pastors when I was a child. Many of our Christmas traditions revolved around the religious aspects of that holiday and the various parties, services, charitable fundraisers, and other events we held at church. It was always a busy season for us!
My family decorated a tree and exchanged a few thoughtful presents each year, but Santa himself was not part of our version of Christmas. My only experiences with him were through seasonal television programs and some traditional works of literature like T’Was The Night Before Christmas.
We didn’t own a TV at all for a while when I was in the prime age group for believing in him, and I was also homeschooled for several years there. Due to these factors, I didn’t know that some other families were so focused on Santa during Christmas until I was older and began spending more time around kids whose families had other traditions.
Sometimes my grandmother would bend the rules a little and give us a few extra presents from Santa or one of the friendly animals on their farm because of how much she loves Christmas.
We always knew they were really from her and Grandpa, of course, so my parents weren’t too fussed about whose name was on the “from” line. My parents taught us to be respectful of other people’s traditions and household rules.
The various legends about Santa amused me, especially when it came to learning about the historical Saint Nicholas and how myths about him and his magical helpers have evolved over time. That made little Lydia wonder if other magical creatures like the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny were also loosely based on real people or events.
When I started attending public school, I vaguely remember classmates talking about what race and ethnicity Santa should be. As far as I was concerned, he could be from any racial or ethnic group.
Appearances don’t matter because Santa was a metaphor for kindness and generosity in my family. We all perform the role of Santa when we notice what others need and quietly work to help them in whatever ways we can throughout the year.