The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, December 15, 1997, Page 5, Image 5

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    Christmas wishes
Breakup of family
changes holiday traditions
IHjVA AUGSTUMS is a fresh
man news-editorial major and
a Daily Nebraskan staff
Last year I went to the mall and sat on
the lap of a man dressed in a red suit who
called himself Santa Claus. A childhood
tradition indeed. A little strange for a 17
I told Santa my only wish: I wanted to
be part of a family with a mother and
father who loved each other.
I didn’t receive my wish. My parents
divorced four months later. But I did real
ize a tradition cannot stay a tradition forev
er, even if it is a family tradition.
Traditions change and fade away when
all of the components are not there.
They become memories of holidays
When this happens, you have to move
on. Create new traditions. New memories.
Before Thanksgiving break my family
told me we were not going to celebrate
Thanksgiving or Christmas this year.
Shocked beyond belief, all I could do was
cry. >'
I was not willing to accept the change
and the loss of a family tradition.
I put up a fight. I endured the heart
aching blows.
Your father is taking the house.
Your brother and I are moving into an
apartment as of Jan. 1.
No tree.
I don’t care if we have
a vase full of greenery for
a tree, if we eat
Christmas dinner on
paper plates
It’s going to be an untraditional holiday.
I don’t care if we have a vase full of
greenery for a tree, if we eat Christmas
dinner on paper plates, or if we bring in the
New Year unpacking boxes.
I have learned over the years to love
many traditions. Traditions that will last a
lifetime - whether they are experienced or
just distant memories.
And there is one tradition that will be
celebrated and not changed this holiday
The tradition of love.
Hey, what can I say? I’m a sucker for
family traditions. Some traditions just can
not become memories.
And in the words of a fat man dressed
in a red suit, some traditions are not even
worth trying to change.
Childhood traditions still prevail, even
for an 18-year-old.
I have the picture to prove it.
You need to start packing up your
Very quickly I realized I was fighting
a fight I could not win. i
A friend told me opportunities arise i
out of Chaos. I didn’t want to believe
him at first. I
I’m now glad I listened. \
Arriving at home the
night before
Thanksgiving, I went
to bed thinking my
mother, brother and I
were going to celebrate
the holiday.
We have to. It’s family
I woke up on
Thanksgiving day. No tradi
Then I remembered last
year’s holiday, visiting Santa at
the mall, and how opportunities
can arise out of chaos.
About a half-hour before my
brother and I were going to a tra
ditional Thanksgiving dinner at
the house of a friend of the fami
ly’s - who just happened to be in
your traditional Norman Rockwell
family -1 received a phone call.
A friend wishing me a happy
Thanksgiving, wanting to make sure
I was doing all right and that I wasn’t
going to spend the holiday alone.
As simple as it may be, it was that
phone call that made me realize that
the untraditional things in life do mean
■ more than the traditional.
Opportunity does arise out of
T 1_x L!_J _ • i t _
x HID WU1UD 111 111111U as 1
remembered the things in this world I
was thankful for. The usual food,
water and shelter, of course. But
also for caring friends and a loving
Now with one holiday down,
y only one to go.
Many more traditions to over
Many new ones to create.
My brother will be spendii
Christmas in Chicago with
family. Given the opportunity
to go, I declined.
; My reason:
spend any
Thanksgiving realized this.
I made the decision to foil
his footsteps.So, Merry
Yes, Virginia, there is
a Santa Claus
Church knew that we all
want to believe in Santa. ...”
of little Virginia 0’Hanlon’s question. He knew
that the spirit of all Christmas lovers, as well as
Virginia’s, depended upon his reply. Church
knew that we all want to believe in Santa Claus.
He wrote what Virginia needed to hear that
year - what we all need to hear every year. That
Santa, and the elves, and the reindeer and the
North Pole all exist. Maybe not because we can
see or touch them, but because we can believe in
Why else would parents ask on Christmas
morning, “What did Santa bring you,” instead of
saying, “You’d better appreciate that; I paid
good money for it.”
Why else would they pay strange men to pad
themselves, put on a red suit and come into their
homes to hold their children?
Whether we like it or not, our Christmas tra
ditions reflect what we truly believe about Santa
Claus. And as immature as it sounds, there is
nothing wrong with that.
Santa embodies the spirit of hope and joy we
succumb to during the holidays. He’s our way of
explaining the wonderfully strange feelings that
well up when we light up the tree, hum “Deck
the Halls,” and watch those corny claymation
Christmas specials.
Believing in Santa Claus is believing in our
selves, and accepting the fact that sometimes in
life, being “mature” does not mean being happy.
Those of us who play the Scrooge during
Christmas don’t appreciate the simple joy^nd
to be as cheesy as possible and still^^^tie
And Scrooges, I’m sorry to say, find the
dumbest excuses for their attitudes.
No Santa Claus because your family is dys
functional? Please. I’m a cross of drunken
German and unstable Bohemian blood. Don’t
talk to me about dysfunctional.
And maybe you’ve had some bad
Christmases in the past - who hasn’t? I spent
one Christmas in France watching soccer and
singing “Silver Bells” to a box of chocolates.
The song didn’t last long, I’ll tell you that much.
No one has an excuse to hate Christmas,
because Christmas is about love. It’s about hav
ing enough courage to
believe in something
without having seen
man news-editorial major and a
Daily Nebraskan staff reporter.
One hundred years ago, Francis P. Church
held in his hands the hopes of a little girl.
He held a letter, written in her 8-year-old
handwriting, that asked a question the world had
been pondering for centuries:
Is there a Santa Claus?
Not an unusual question for an 8-year-old by
any means, yet very hard to answer.
And Church, editor of the New York Sun,
knew he had to respond. He did so with words
that would be repeated for generations after
“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
And the world listened.
That particular editorial was so popular, in
fact, that the Sun reprinted it every year for the
next 52 years.
Fifty-two years?
Most people know after they hit the age of
10 that Santa Claus doesn’t exist (earlier still if
they have older siblings). So why would a 20
year veteran of a distinguished newspaper say
that there is? Why would a man who covered the
Civil War for the New York Times write an edi
torial about the existence of a magical elf?
And why would people enjoy reading it so
Every year people spend enormous amounts
of money on Christmas gifts, countless hours
decorating their houses, and more than one
weekend baking and storing enough goodies to
feed a small African nation.
And they do this because they don't believe
in Santa Claus?
it witn
• ' your own
two eyes.
The fact
is, people
believe in
things they
can’t see every
day - religion,
romance, hope,
loyalty. We need
these things to
sustain us when
the realities of life
are too hard to
knew hard
L times. He
^ knew what
and suffering were.
And he chose to believe.
Sadly, he died just nine years after his edito
rial was published, in 1906.
His words, however, like the spirit of
I Christmas itself, continue to heighten die joy
of those who dare to believe in something
they cannot see. Something, as Church
wrote, that never dies:
“(Santa) lives and lives forever. A thousand
years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000
years from now, he will continue to make
glad the heart of childhood.”
Only a hundred years,
Church, and glad indeed.