Nfld. & Labrador·Point of View

How a Christmas parade made this skeptical dad's heart grow 3 sizes

A lesson one Gander father has learned from his kids: if you don't live in the moment, you're not living at all.

A lesson from my kids: if you don't live in the moment, you're not living at all

Stanley Gill, at the moment when Santa Claus went by during the annual Christmas parade. (Submitted)

Every year it's the same thing. As Christmas becomes more commercialized, I have difficulty getting into the spirit of things.

Everybody is spending more money and time than they have, all to get ready for something in which I don't see much point, other than to line the pockets of retailers.  

I can't complain, though, not without risking being labelled a Scrooge.

The irony is not lost on me: I don't think anyone would be more pleased with the current state of Christmas than a miserly capitalist.

But recently, something happened to me.

Pure, innocent elation 

I was at the Gander Santa Claus parade with my two children. The three of us were nursing the tail ends of head colds, and at least one of us was wishing he was instead home in bed.

But as my young sons, ages three and five, watched the  parade roll down the icy streets, I was reminded that no matter how joyous our wanton consumerism of Christmas may make the corporations, it is no match for the pure innocent elation of these two tiny people.

Dane Gill's sons, Felix and Stanley, watch Gander's Christmas parade. (Submitted by Dane Gill)

They don't know how their dad has actually felt about Christmas — that I saw it as not much more than a six-week long advertisement, and that the toys Santa brings them are made in sweatshops in Asia rather than elves in the North Pole.

As far as they're concerned, Christmas is just a label adults put on an excuse to be as hopeful and excited as they can possibly be.

And if this elation manifests itself in the form of decorated plastic trees, bright coloured lights, toys made in China, and teeth-rotting candy — well, that's just all the better.

But Looking at my beaming children, the cynic in me, despite my best efforts, died.

Because as much as I want to naysay the holidays, to quit the whole stressful sham and bah-humbug my way into January,  I know that anything that makes my children this happy can't be all that bad.

Under the spell of childhood wonder

Yes, this may be a very roundabout way of saying ignorance is bliss; that as long as you're under the spell of childhood naiveté​ and wonder, Christmas truly is a magical time of year.

But isn't bliss a bit scarce these days?

With so much awful news bombarding us at all hours of the day, isn't bliss something we could all use a little of right now?

So what if it means turning reality down a few notches and getting caught up in festivities that may not align themselves with the rest of the year's politics and ideologies? 

With so much awful news bombarding us at all hours of the day, isn't bliss something we could all use a little of right now?

Because if there's anything my children have taught me as they grow older — and faster than I can keep up — is that if you don't live in the moment, in the here and now, you're not living at all.

What difference does the rest of that stuff make to me right at the moment when Santa, cast in the red flashing lights of fire trucks, waves from his float and at my children, and my children, agog and mystified as if in the presence of a deity, wave back and scream "Merry Christmas" for all the world to hear?  

I can make this moment about how greedy and awful the western world has managed to make itself over the last couple of centuries, or I can witness the most beautiful sight on earth: my children smiling.

All the negative things about Christmas are true, whether I pay attention to them or not — so why not ignore them, at least in the moment?

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About the Author

Dane Gill

Contributor

Dane Gill is a freelance writer living in Gander.

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