I Believe….

December 26, 2007 by Ellen Stimson in Christmas time, Family, Jesus, Santa

It’s Christmas. This is a time of year when believing…in something…feels essential. I love going to church, candles in hand, and singing Silent Night. I loved it as a little girl, and now, even not quite completely believing in the story, or anyway in all that has come along after and with it….I love it still.

And Santa, well in him I believe. I told my kids as they got older and began to wonder, that Santa lives in each of our hearts and is the spirit of Christmas. This may be a little bit pagan, but somehow for me his spirit is just as real as the little babe in that far away manger. The differences in their stories seem less important to me than their similarities. Each offers a tale of redemption. They both inspire us to be better to each other, to love, to imagine, and to warm ourselves by the fire in our hearth and with our chosen family. Sometimes we choose the ones we came in with and sometimes we choose the ones that came after. I learned a long time ago that you get two chances at family. As little children we don’t have much choice in how it all works out. But, this is my second go around with the whole mother child bond and I was determined that this time it would be happy and whole. And by golly it has been. This time I got the lucky hang of happiness.

And now with these people I choose, we believe…We believe for instance in the goodness of butter and sugar. With sticky hands we open presents, and make cups of tea and coffee. We snuggle under blankets and listen as the Vince Guaraldi Trio makes us want to dance like Linus and Lucy did in front of the tree. And our wonderful pagan tree, we got married under it some sixteen years ago. We believe in the healing and happy power of its light and color, it’s sparkle and shine; we believe.

We roll dough and eat handfuls of it, and eventually a few cookies get baked. We play silly games, and argue and joust over the results, and on Christmas Eve we eat in fancy restaurants and toast this little family of ours. This is the stuff of happiness, chocolate chips, fizzy drinks, marshmallow cream, and red sprinkles. Perhaps all this goo binds us together in a way that just being related never could.

A sweet friend of my daughter’s said that Christmas only makes her sad. She said it is just for happy families and that it makes everyone else miserable. But there is a secret, eventually you get to pick for yourself on which side you will be. And thanks to these sticky, sweet, bawdy, funny, loud, rambunctious people I chose, Christmas is my favorite time of year. I believe….and believing is essential.


  • cara

    2 chances. i like it. I too am in my second family. my mom missed out. Amy and josh and i will make up for lost time

  • Anonymous

    My second go around as well….I will ahng onto this image. We are not doomed by the past

  • auntiemame

    When you get some grand babies everybody gets to believe all over again…MUCH FUN

  • library lady

    I have more faith in the manger than in eight tiny reindeer, but you have the spirit of miracles, so bless you!

  • beesknees

    I believe too, and I think Jesus may yet drag you bak into his thrall…

  • Anonymous

    Just found you. I loved your image of two families. Thank you. I will tune in more often

  • Jen

    You forgot cream. Oh and cheese. Butter and sugar and cream and cheese, in these I believe

  • nanci

    beautiful, thanks

  • Anonymous

    what if you are single and still stuck with the old ones? what then??

  • mikey

    Move far away

  • Anonymous

    have your own party and invite your friends on xmas night…everybody’s bored by then and sick of the petty resentments and jealousies at their house, so they will come to yours and everyone can tell stories about how thier uncle jim got drunk and felt up their mom.shared horror begets laughter.plus yur food will be better

  • prodigy

    I sent this to my sister.Two chances, yes, that’s right, isn’t it? Thank you

  • illinois x

    i once knew this girl from a grimy little steel town in Illinois who took me to a Christmas Eve church service at her church. It was a small and modest church in a very modest part of that largely down and out mill town. I had never been to such a congregation before and didn’t really know what to expect. While the members were by no means rich in monetary terms they were by far the wealthiest people in terms of spirit and grace and love i ever met. That night changed me…I Believe…

  • Anonymous

    I’m pretty sure I grew up in that grimy steel town.I am betting so did E.
    Im glad the family you made beats the one you had E.I’m even more glad to get to hear you tell itfdfdoe

  • E

    I once told Santa that I wanted a Baby TenderLove doll for Christmas. I also told Jesus just to cover my bases. I swear I told no one else and on Christmas morning there she was. Those two guys merged for me that year. And I have believed, really and truly, ever since.
    Thank you all for your comments.
    And to anonymous who is single and stuck uncomfortably with her original family I would offer that your chosen family needn’t have titles like husband, or daughter. Friends can stand in for sisters and brothers, and some of the best mothering I have ever had comes from my sweet Bernese Mountain Dog, Eloise. You take it where it is…E

  • trish

    jesus and santa are almost as good as the 2 chnaces at family. i loved this post. thank you

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