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Keeping the magic of Santa Claus alive

Writer Sara Gonzales recalls waking up as a child on Christmas morning and racing to see what Santa had left her under the Christmas tree. Once, he left her a silver bell from Rudolph. This year, Sara's son received a silver bell. (2014 file photo/Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)

I can still see it so vividly in my mind. It was Christmas morning, just barely dawn, and I was on my feet as soon as my eyes popped open. At 6 years old, it felt like torture to wait longer than five minutes to see what Santa had left under our tree.

"Mom! Dad! It's Christmas! Can I come out yet?" I called to my parents from my bedroom. It was customary on Christmas for me to ask for permission before walking into the living room (Santa never wrapped the presents he left under our tree).

After getting the go-ahead, I raced out to see just how well-behaved Santa thought I'd been that year. Yes, he'd left plenty of presents, but that was nothing compared to the thrill and excitement of what else he'd left behind. Big black shoe prints — boots, to be exact. He must have been so focused on the task of delivering presents to children all over the world in one night that he forgot to wipe the soot off his boots from the fireplace.

And that wasn't all he'd left behind. A bright, shiny sleigh bell sat atop a piece of paper on the fireplace with a quick note scrawled on it.

Dear Sara,

I heard your favorite reindeer is Rudolph. I'd like to give you this magic sleigh bell from his harness. Please take good care of it for me. 

Until next year,


The rest of the morning, I could barely focus on our Christmas morning traditions. The presents under the tree, the toys and other materialistic items were utterly inconsequential to me because as a young child, these two simple gestures filled my heart with such sheer joy.

Yes, as Christians, my parents were always diligent to teach me the true meaning of Christmas, but that year they showed me the magic of Christmas, and the heartfelt emotions I experienced as a young child I still recall even now.

As an adult, those close to me call me "The Grinch" during the holiday season. Life is busy, and I have a hard time buying into the commercialized, sensationalized Christmas we've come to experience these days. But knowing what an impact the magic of the season had on me as a young child was enough for me to remember one small addition this Christmas morning for my own 5-year-old son. A small silver bell.

The world is a scary place, and it seems to get worse all the time. Let us rejoice in every opportunity we have to keep the magic alive. Merry Christmas.

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