Dear Mr. Stajickiwitz:
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say that not only is there no Santa Claus, but that Christmas has been cancelled this year because of tight money and the recession. Please tell me the truth: Are we cancelling Christmas? Am I just crazy to even think that my Barbie as Rizzo in “Grease” doll is still coming?
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. Oh, it’s true… lots of things are being cancelled because of the recession. Symphony performances, opera seasons, musicals that were headed for Broadway. But nobody has so far even proposed cancelling Christmas, and such action would require at least a two-thirds majority and probably some mucking about with the Vatican and who wants to get into that jackpot? Additionally, you’d have a situation where Dads are decorating their houses with lights like casinos and there’d be no rational reason for doing that… uh, without Christmas.
It’s true that Christmas may be scaled back this year but, over time, that’s not always a bad thing. Somebody like your Grandma or Grandpa would probably be delighted to share a memory of a particularly “tough” Christmas and you’ll be surprised to see that they not only remember it clearly, but they have a kind of warm feeling as they tell the story. Often when difficult times are behind us, we take a kind of delight in recounting those memories. I can’t fully explain this to you, but take it from me, President Bush is already laughing about that shoe thing in Iraq. Even though he totally had it coming.
It’s a good idea to remember that while someone your age is rightfully anxious about such things as Santa’s schedule of stops on Christmas Eve, the whole idea of Christmas comes from a time long ago when the world needed hope. We’ve just had a time like that and it produced a wonderful gift for the whole world: Leadership that can use polysyllabic words in a sentence without creating embarrassing gaffes captured on videotape!
So while that might be one of some early Christmas gifts, there are others that will have to wait. A lot of people would ask nothing more of Christmas than to hold the person they love in their arms, and that won’t happen because that special someone is still serving our country in a far away place. We have good reason to believe that many of those people will be together soon, but if it’s all right I’ll ask you to hold a good thought about that. The reason I’m enlisting your help is that you’re a kid and adults have a lousy track record when it comes to ending wars soon enough, and then keeping their promise of never starting another one.
I wish something more solid for you on this recession, but it’s my suspicion that things will get a wee bit tighter before they get better. You see, just like you when you sit in the bathtub and try floating the soap or your shampoo bottle… we’ve been trying to float just about everything. And as it turns out, not everything floats. Not forever. It can be hard work pulling something up once it’s sunk. But then look at all the money they made on that “Titanic” movie and that was about some rusty junk at the bottom of the ocean. What do you want to bet me that someday a lot of these stocks come back, even though they’ll be soaking wet and covered with barnacles…? Oh, don’t bet me. It’s wrong to gamble with your money. But… what would you bet? What if we went double or nothing? Would you take a note on my house?
See, right there is the exact kind of behavior that got us in trouble. And if this Christmas holds a lesson for any of us, it’s to be more cautious with things like your college money. Are you able to access your college money? Because I have a guy who knows a guy and if 12 people get on board this deal, and did I mention there is absolutely no risk – wait, don’t. Leave that money right where it is.
Because Christmas is a time of appreciating things just as they are. And a slow, steady three or four percent in this economy is something to be thankful for. So just let it ride, and don’t worry about Santa or the holiday. Regardless of how sour things get right now, we’re all still capable of appreciating each other and the collective strength we have when we keep the faith. You’ll find that even if Christmas has a quality of looking a little different this year, it will still feel pretty much the same. Because the part of Christmas that matters is something that’s timeless and enduring and pretty much recession-proof.