I look back
on the day I was hurt when I realised that my parents were the bearers
of gifts and not Santa Claus or the Three Wise Men. Having a Spanish
mother and English father with different customs and background and
living in Spain, didnıt help matters and only added to the confusion
as to who was who during Christmas time. I clearly remember, however,
the words of my parish priest that finally healed my wounds. They remained
for ever in my mind as the guiding light for my future. I must have
been about 8 or 9 at the time. Mom kept telling me that Santa didnıt
exist and that only Jasper and the other kings brought presents. Dad
didnıt agree and said that mom was wrong and didnıt know what she was
talking about. Who was I to believe?
Dad missed the crackers and mince pies, as well as the Christmas cards
and decorated fur tree. Mom preferred to wait until 12th Night with
all the trimmings that the carnival atmosphere of Reyesı brought to
all Spanish families. ³What would you like Father Christmas to bring
you?² Dad would ask me. We would then go into the charade of being a
good boy all year or else I wouldnıt get anything. ³But mom tells me
that if Iım good, my wishes will come true after Christmas². Dad, lost
for words, would stutter confusedly. ³Well, your mother is not English
and doesnıt understand. English children are watched by Santa Claus
who lives very far away in the North Pole.² He then tried once again
to explain about Jesus and who he was and why the world adored him.
I picked up the point about the three men riding camels to bring presents,
but Father Christmas was beyond me.
I told my dad that it was all very confusing. He finally gave up on
me. My mom then walked in and accused my dad of being biased. ³I thought
we had agreed that hereı kids receive the Reyesı and not Santa,² she
said. ³ Christmas day is for all the family to gather, yours and mine,
and pray for being blessed by the birth of Jesus Christ. It is not to
hand out presents. That happens later.² All I wanted was an electric
train set and I promised all of them my parents and grandparents
that I wouldnıt fight with my sisters, who were always bullying me,
and that Iıd finish all my homework on time. Nevertheless, matters were
further complicated by my dear sisters. ³They donıt exist!², they would
sing in unison. ³Toys come from shops not from heaven!² I suddenly thought,
why were my parents disagreeing in the first place, if everything was
a lie? Then it all changed.
I woke up on Christmas morning and dad came into my bedroom with a big
smile on his face. Mom was behind him beaming. ³Come and see what Santaıs
brought you². I jumped out of bed, ran to the living room. There, under
the Christmas tree and Nacimientoı were several nicely wrapped up packages.
One was marked Jimmyı. My heart stopped whilst I wrestled to open it.
I got a football. No train set. Later that day, granddad and grandma
turned up, as well as my uncle Michael, my dadıs brother. They all brought
more presents. We sat down to a lunch of seafood, roast beef and Yorkshire
pudding dad got his way and ended with fruit salad, ice-cream, cakes
and lots and lots of nuts and chocolate. Dad opened a bottle of champagne.
I tried to get a sip but was told itıs not good for me. Grownups! Weıre
all a happy and united family.
Come New Yearıs eve and everyone went crazy. Fireworks, parades, and
lots and lots of eating. My granddad and grandma tucked me into bed,
kissed me goodnight and went to watch the telly. I didnıt know where
my parents had gone. The next day, I got up, went and got my sisters
out of bed and started our usual fighting. We all got yelled at by mom
and dad. It was eleven in the morning and they were not up yet. The
rest of the week went by very quickly and then it was party time again.
More fireworks, parades, lots of people carrying the Virgin Mary around
the streets. Mom was happy and told me that if I was good the Three
Wise Men would bring me presents that night. Oh no! What was going on?
I thought dad was right after all and mom was wrong.
During these last months, I had been attending catholic indoctrination
classes with Monseñor Pedro because I was coming up for my first communion.
I couldnıt help it. I ran to church and looked for him. I broke down
and started crying. I told him how I felt and that I was scared. ³My
child², he started. ³Both your parents are right. It is what you feel
inside your heart that matters. Of course there is a Santa Claus, and
three kings known as the Three Wise Men that brought presents to baby
Jesus 12 days after he was born. If you believe in God, as I have taught
you, and followed Jesusı preaching, you will receive goodness in the
form of presents for the rest of your life. Christmas day and Reyes
day are no different to any other day. It is how you see them that matters².
I walked away half confused but feeling better. I thought of going back
to tease my sisters or kick my football around the house. But then,
I remembered what the priest told me. I also thought of my mom and dad.
Although they had different beliefs, they were good to all of us during
the Christmas period. I ran back home thinking finally: ³Oh well! I
did get more presents out of it anyway! Thank you Jesus.²