All week, I get to introduce you to some of my new favorites in the world of blogging, writing, authoring, and entrepreneur-ing (a word I probably just made up). With Advent upon us, I thought it would be fun to do a little bit of old-school hosting of some of the most fabulous people I know. I hope you’ll find a way to stop by for this entire series — we’ll even be posting on Thanksgiving. Feel free to subscribe for the week, so you don’t miss a post (and, you can unsubscribe when the week is done). At the end of this post, enter for your chance to win a copy of my book, EveryLittleThing and an Everlasting Light Shine Necklace from DaySpring. Happy Holidays!
I met Deana last year, when I was asked to speak to a local group of entrepreneurs. I’d been asked to talk about blogging and Deana was in the audience. She sat in the back, nodding and smiling at me — sending good energy my way. Months later, a few local bloggers formed a group to meet monthly and talk through the joys and challenges of managing our online spaces. Deana is part of that group, and I’ve learned so much from her. Everything she shares is life-changing, and I am not exaggerating. I’m honored to call Deana a friend, and I’m so glad she lives right here in Lincoln, Nebraska. If you’re looking for a life or business coach, I encourage you to reach out to Deana. She is funny and wise and she is a deep thinker. She makes things clearer and she leads with her heart.
I will always remember it. I was about seven years old.
One snowy South Dakota night I was staring out the window. My mom was cooking dinner and listening to KDSJ, the local AM station. That’s when Uncle Al (that’s what everyone called him) – the station owner, DJ, correspondent, voice in all the commercials, and weatherman – said something that, even today, makes my heart pick up speed.
“Listen up kids,” he said. “We’ve just received news that Santa’s sleigh has been spotted flying over Rapid City.”
I did some fast calculations in my second-grade brain and concluded he would be flying over my house soon.
I sat. And waited. I shushed my little brother. I squinted. I searched.
And then I saw him.
Well, in fact, I saw a little red blinking dot travel slowly across the night sky.
Was it a star?
No, it was moving and stars don’t move.
Was it really him?
It had to be because that was clearly Rudolph’s nose.
Telling this tale evokes the sensations of being seven years old again, when I lived in the gap between reality and imagination. The emotions I felt that night were powerful because I had total permission to be part of a dream world, no matter how illogical. I was a participant and character in the tradition of a story I adored.
This tradition continued until – like many of us – I was too embarrassed to admit I still believed in Santa. And then one day, I no longer did. That seven year old girl still lived inside me but she was blanketed by the realities of growing up.
And then, years later, I became a mom.
And my inner child woke up.
She couldn’t wait to bestow her vast knowledge of all things wonderful and magical about Christmas to my children. She took over the holidays for me, year in and year out. Even those Christmases when I was stressed about money, or exhausted from work, or grieving the loss of my dad, or slightly irritated by our occasional circus of family drama – she determinedly wove imagination into our lives.
She sprinkled glitter on the front steps and told my children elves must’ve visited in the night. She left cursively, scrolly notes on tiny pieces of parchment paper – for my kids to discover. Notes that reminded them to be kind, give hugs, and listen to their parents. She baked cookies with my children and let them decorate with as much icing as they wanted. She sang carols, read stories, played outside, drank hot cocoa, and watched Charlie Brown. She taught my kids how to make ornaments out of pipecleaners, beads, homemade playdough, and construction paper. She cuddled in front of the Christmas tree and cooed at how pretty the lights were. She taught my kids that not all children have happy holidays and we must be generous and loving no matter what. She helped them clean up their outgrown toys to give away, and took them shopping for gifts to give to strangers. She made sure the wrapping paper and bows that Santa Claus used did not adorn other gifts. She filled stockings when the house was quiet. And she couldn’t wait to see the look on everyone’s faces come Christmas morning.
But last year she cried.
Because she realized the kids had grown up.
My youngest child had started middle school. One day he said, “I need you to tell me the absolute truth. Is Santa Claus real?”
She responded, “What do you believe?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “That’s why I’m asking you.”
Her heart started beating like a tiny bird. She didn’t want him to know.
“Well,” she hesitated. “For me Santa is love. He’s kindness. He’s playful. He’s….”
“I get all that,” he interrupted. “But does a man really fly around the world in one night, wearing a red suit, and climbing down chimneys and all that?”
She stared into his sweet, knowing eyes, wanting to stay in the story with him, but knew she couldn’t.
“No,” she said. “He’s not real. I’m sorry.”
“You don’t need to be sorry,” my son said. “I kind of figured it was a story, but now I feel relieved to know the truth.”
And that was that.
My last baby woke up from the spell I’d begun casting eighteen years prior.
Last year marked the first Christmas my children lived outside the bubble of make believe.
I felt discombobulated by the gap in our traditions. There were no tracks to cover. No Santa wrapping paper to hide. No shushing my older kids so they wouldn’t accidentally spill the beans. No cookies and carrots to leave beside the stockings. No eyes wide with curiosity as we monitored to the Norad Santa Tracker.
But you know what?
There was calm.
I could enjoy moments without needing to think two steps ahead.
I didn’t have to filter my words to keep stories consistent.
I enjoyed my kids as the people they are instead of expending massive amounts of energy organizing circumstances to preserve an innocence that was ready to fall away.
And I discovered I like this new chapter.
I believe there is a way things work in this universe. Seeds are planted, they sprout, they bloom, they enjoy their day in the sun, and then they begin the process of letting go, so another may take its place.
Where I once felt sadness at the letting go of traditions I’d created many years ago, I now see space for new traditions to take root.
And I’m excited to see what blooms.
Deana Ward is a writer, business guide, and website designer at her boutique studio, Simple & Soulful Creative, where helps inspired people design and launch sustainable, soul-infused businesses. Sign up for her weekly love letters and download her guidebook “The Introvert’s Guide To Growing Your New Business” right here. She lives in Lincoln with her husband and three kids.
Thanks for reading through this series. It’s been a while since I’ve posted so many days in a row, and hosted so many delightful people. I’ve had a blast, introducing you to some of my friends. Connecting people is one of my favorite things to do, but I’ve been distracted by the way things have changed around here, lately. I’m honored by your friendship, and by the way you keep showing up here, with your grace and your open hearts. Thank you for all the ways you’ve supported and encouraged me—especially this year.
My friends at DaySpring are making it possible for me to give away one gift set, just in time for the holidays (open to residents of US and Canada). The set includes an Everlasting Light Shine Necklace, and a copy of my book, Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are. You can enter to win beginning today, through Friday, December 4, 2015. If you’d like to be entered for a chance to win, just leave a comment below, but follow these guidelines: Please let us know how to reach you, should you win. And, be sure to answer this question, in response to Deana’s post: In what way has life most surprised you?