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This time of year you see Santa every where. He was even in the CNN Newsroom yesterday morning thrilling children, many of whom looked like they believed. A co-worker of mine, older and wiser than I, recently asked me when the magic stopped for me? When did I stop believing? She asked while musing about her own children's Christmas experiences and I sat for a moment with the studio lights of the newsroom shining down thinking aback to the Christmas lights of my childhood.
I can remember as clear as day all the excitement and anticipation waiting for the man in the red suit to deliver all those gifts. Only my Santa didn't have a red suit or a round belly. My Santa was clad in UPS brown and arrived in a brown truck instead of a red sleigh.
I grew up in a dizzying succession of college towns. Champaign-Urbana while my father was getting his doctorate, Baton Rouge, Chapel Hill and Bloomington, Indiana. Each location was far from my doting grandparents, aunts and uncles. While these family members intended to lavish me with all manner of gifts, my parents took the opposite approach. The salary of a post doc did not accommodate extravagance and my parents, perhaps conveniently, believed that by giving me only a small number of simple gifts my imagination would grow. A typical Christmas would net the dolls, movies and sugary delights from the UPS Santa, courtesy of my extended family, while the non-UPS Santa contained simpler gifts. Needless to say as a child the gifts which came by post fueled my belief in the magic of Santa.
As Christmas drew near I'd keep watch. When that brown UPS truck pulled up I'd squeal with excitement and even offer a cookie to the deliveryman. Moving only heightened the magic; with every address somehow the brown truck would find us in time to deliver Christmas goodies.
So when did I stop believing in my version of Santa Claus? Maybe never. That brown truck still elicits excitement only now the delivery is more likely an item from Amazon.com purchased with my very own credit card.
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