I was raised by my divorced and single mom, we lived in a low-income, government-subsidized one-bedroom apartment at the time, and my mom had hardly any extra money to purchase me a Christmas gift that year.
I remember that year vividly going to, what I thought at the time being only about 6 or 7 years old, the North Pole where Santa lived. She took me there and I remember how I was so excited and it really looked like the North Pole with red and green wrapped walls and real elves and reindeer on the outside before you entered. It was a dream come true. I felt like a million bucks!
I sat on Santa’s lap and he asked me what it was I wanted for Christmas that year. I told him, and it was definitely a child’s dream of a request for the inevitable electronic Barbie car I could drive all to myself! Haha.
Next, I approached the area in the North Pole where the elves gave me my gift, and I expected no less than the Barbie car I asked for from Santa since Santa was supposed to give you exactly what you asked him for. The elf handed me my gift, and to my surprise, it was a very small present. I was still hopeful that maybe, just maybe, I was still going to receive my Barbie car that day. I open it, and it was a Barbie doll! It wasn’t even a name brand Barbie doll, it was the cheaply made Barbie…… and I was not impressed. Santa was supposed to give me a Barbie car! Plus, I already had Barbie’s that grandma and others in my family had bought me in the past.
So, of course, even at that age I thanked them per my mom’s request to do so and I left the North Pole in anger and sadness at Santa and wondering what kind of hope I could have from then on if even Santa wasn’t everything I dreamed of and he didn’t deliver on the very thing he was supposed to do. Give me what I wanted! What kind of operation was The North Pole?
I got into my mom’s car and expressed my deepest anger with Santa and the North Pole and my lasting words of anger with my mom were, “Grandma will buy me a Barbie car. I know it.” Of course, my mom let me ramble on and on while she got frustrated with my bullheadedness and we had our fight together as normal with about everything at the time. She told me this, “Grandma may have money to buy you things, but money isn’t everything in life. You shouldn’t ask Grandma to buy you a Barbie car because a Barbie car is a lot of money even for Grandma. Respect whatever you get from her.” We had a huge discussion about Santa and about how even Santa can’t always get you what you want in life. You have to work hard to get what you want in life because you cannot expect everyone to give you things. She told me that I should be thankful for the gift I received from Santa. The experience really made me think a lot afterward. Even though I was angry with everyone and put up a fight in the beginning, I thought about this experience for years including the lessons my mom taught me.
I later found out that The North Pole was a program put on by a nonprofit organization for low-income members of the community. It was a program done so that those that had no money for gifts that Christmas could still have their children get a gift.
I noticed some things on Christmas that year, I received many presents from my grandma and my dad’s side of the family, but hardly anything from my mom for Christmas. She said she didn’t have the money that year, but that she was going to start saving cash and change for Christmas for next year in her silver box and maybe next Christmas would be better. It was.
The impact of this event on my values and direction in life: Many!
1) Value of being Independent — What my mom said about working hard to get the things you want in life and not expecting others to give you everything was the largest value I learned for my life. I continued to use this throughout all of my life. This one event didn’t make me independent-minded, but it did set a building block for the approach and mindset I have even to this day. I value that I can be independent and take it with large pride in life. Many of my friends and family have noticed this characteristic about me as well, so I understand that it does show to others and isn’t just an inner accepted truth.
2) Value of Respect — I realized that I didn’t treat anyone there with respect at the North Pole really. I didn’t show what I felt there necessarily, but I did have very negative thoughts about the people in the North Pole and Santa. This identification of even thoughts that were disrespectful later on was something that I still hold onto as an adult. I think about my thoughts and I try to treat and even think about everyone I come into contact with respect. If I don’t have respect, then I take a close look at why I am feeling the way I am and think outside of the box to see if maybe there is a larger meaning to what is going on. Maybe things aren’t what they appear… maybe there is more to this than what is at the surface level?
3) Value of Honesty and Truth — I didn’t like that Santa didn’t deliver the one main promise everyone says he can do. At the time, I thought it was that Santa gave you everything you wanted when you asked him on his lap. I put a lot of value on truthfulness and honesty even as a child. I became frustrated when I found what I was told to be untruthful. I respected my mom for stating her complete honesty even though I didn’t necessarily like it at the time. Honesty and Truth is a value I have to this day that I live by. I try to be truthful with everyone, and to be honest this one value has made me realize a lot in life. One of them is, not everyone can handle the truth.
4) Aesthetics — I learned a lot too that the extreme decoration and beauty of The North pole made it seem believable and really allowed me to create an imagination. I don’t think the situation would have been nearly as memorable had the experience not seemed very real like I was walking into a dream meeting Santa for the first time. Afterward, after I realized all that happened and the lessons I learned from this life experience I did reflect on the beauty of the event and that someone would take the time to make it such a great experience. I had a sincere appreciation for the beauty of the event.
5) Community/Helping Others — I learned later on how much this event showed me just what a community and the act of helping others can do for someone in times of need or just in general. Without the help of others and the community involvement at this event, it would not have been possible. I still believe strongly in the power of community and collaboration. I also have found that I have a sincere want to help others in my life. It’s one of the things that make me feel passionate about life and the world.
6) Personal Development — I definitely learned the value of personal development by this life event. I learned that my thoughts and actions needed to be developed and I needed to self-reflect. I also realized the importance of a figure to help me to realize and point out my behavior and thought processes. For had it not been for my mom teaching me a different perspective and not giving into just accept my thoughts that it was a bad experience, then the aftermath may have been entirely different. I try to often think about how I can grow in my life and debate about how my thoughts might be different from others and try to decipher what is best.
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