Cookies and milk and the meaning of Christmas

What to say about Christmas that hasn’t already been said? I struggled with this until I remembered last night, Christmas Eve, watching Polar Express with my four year old son. (Which I think the animation is so weird, almost creepy, but it’s a nice story) And when Santa shows up and teaches the boy how to hear the bell ringing, to believe in Christmas again, my son turns to me and says, is Santa coming? I want to meet Santa. And really, he wasn’t worried about getting a present, he wanted to meet the symbol of Christmas, and it made me believe in Christmas again, made me shed some of the cynicism, the concern about getting the right gift, or even being jolly.

Since I spent time in the Peace Corps in the Ivory Coast, I had become more cynical of just how much we have in our country when many children around the world have so little. Christmas began to represent those excesses to me, and some of the joy of the holiday became lost to me. I thank my son for returning some of the mystery and joy. So we gave my son cookies and milk and he placed them next to the fireplace, and after my son fell asleep, we ate the cookies and milk, making sure to leave crumbs on the plate and a ring of milk in the glass. And that was the first thing he thought of when he woke up. He wanted to see if Santa had eaten the cookies and drunk the milk. And so did I.

Have a wonderful holiday and new year!


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