The other day, I caught John pouring over his inflatable globe — and couldn’t help but remind him of its origins.
“Remember when ‘Santa Claus’ gave that to you last year?” I said with a wink.
He giggled in response. “‘Santa Claus’ really knows what I like.”
It’s the sort of thing you’d hear a parent ask their child — instead of a wife asking her husband. Yet, even though we both know who “Santa Claus” really is, any talk of the jolly old man never fails to bring a smile to his face.
At the same time, the very mention of “Christmas lights” will have John’s face all aglow. He’s the one that even suggested the tradition of hanging them on our windows, along with the lights on our Christmas tree. He’s also the one who, year after year, loves stringing them up, just as he loves decking out our Christmas tree in all of the “Chinese ornaments” we’ve collected over the years.
He even opens our Christmas cards throughout the season with the joy of a child opening presents on Christmas morning. I always save every unopened envelope just for him, so he might “unwrap” the greetings for the two of us — and I might enjoy watching the smiles that unfurl across his face.
I’m sure lots of couples enjoy, say, their share of “Santa” jokes — or happen to have someone in the family who is crazy about their Christmas lights. But sometimes, there’s something unabashedly innocent — and even childlike — about John when it comes to enjoying the holidays. At a time in my life when the holidays sometimes feel more like work than wonder, he seems to balance my perspective, to remind me about the simple pleasures of the season, to implore me to relax and enjoy it.
Maybe that’s because he’s only known Christmas for 10 years. After all, he never celebrated until we started to date — and even then, it wasn’t until we moved to the US that he really experienced the holiday, in all of its bright lights, tinsel and gingerbread splendor. When you’re still getting to know such an important holiday, when it still feels as fresh and merry as a sprig of mint in your hot chocolate, perhaps it keeps you younger in your perspective — more immune to all of the Christmas stress and bah-humbug feelings that loom from time to time.
Whatever it is, I hope I’ll still have a few more good years of this, watching John giggle over the mention of his secret “Santa Claus.”