*** This post has changed from my original draft ***
This year, my holiday season was better than ever in some ways and in other ways, gave me a feeling of sadness.
Better Than Ever!!
Two year ago, our Christmas almost didn’t happen. I had lost my job (after we JUST bought a house) and we had no money for presents, a tree or our bills. I wasn’t even able to buy the pajamas for the kids that I looked forward to every year. One day I came home, pulled into the driveway and looked up into the living room window to see a giant tree with twinkling colorful lights shining out at me. I excitedly and hurriedly dashed up the stairs to find my husband (with his signature 5 ft long Santa hat) waiting with a big smile. He told me about his coworkers coming forward asking if we needed help. He thanked them and declined help, because there were much more deserving people out there who needed the help. But at the end of the day, someone handed him a card from everyone, filled with a collection of donations and a giant faux Christmas tree. We cried and talked about how amazing those people were and how great it was going to be get those pajamas and put the rest towards a special Christmas eve meal and a couple of long overdue bills. It was our first Christmas in our new house. On Christmas morning, my husband surprised me with a lovely long winter coat – the one I had been eyeing for a long time. He had dipped into the donation money before telling me so that he could make sure I had a gift to open.
Last year, after getting married in October, we didn’t have as much as we would have liked, but we definitely had more than the year before and we had a good time.
This year, we worked our asses off – so much so, I began to believe sleep was the enemy, taking bathroom breaks was time wasted, and showering was for the rich and lazy. I was able to take my kids shopping where they spent their own hard-earned money on gifts for their family members – it was a proud mama moment. Working our extra jobs and saving what we could made for our best year yet! We sent out Christmas cards for the first time! We sent homemade ornaments to family, gave cookies and cards to the people that take care of us (hairstylist, mailman, dance teachers, piano teacher, etc) and left a little something special for a little girl that visited Main Street to see the magic of Christmas Traditions.
It truly was a great Christmas – despite the stress of working – we pulled it off and I even got video of my daughter hugging her brother because of his truly thoughtful gift. That is our Christmas Spirit!
What a wonderful moment – so glad to have captured it on video!!
Now… my sadness –
This was my fourth year as the Christmas Angel in Christmas Traditions.
I love this job! We are all Christmas inspired characters, walking up and down Main Street in St. Charles, MO, spreading love, happiness and cheer. I wear a beautiful costume and gorgeous, giant white wings – it’s fantastical!
For the record – No, I don’t feel like a hypocrite. We are all actors and if we all believed that the character we were portraying was, in fact, real, we’d all been in padded rooms.
Also, on the other side of the hypocrisy coin, I am an atheist and there are religious aspects of the festival, but again, I’m an actor, portraying a part. I’m not proselytizing – in fact, I get proselytized to. Yup, some Christians can’t even let me be an innocent faux Christmas Angel Tree Topper without telling me how I’m wrong on the how-to’s of getting into heaven. #geesh #takeachillpill
I’m an actor. Period. If you can’t separate the two, then you have the issue, not me.
Back to my point – I LOVE THIS JOB! I love saying Merry Christmas, and have learned to say it in several languages. I get the occasional, “I’m Jewish,” to which I respond, “Oh, sorry – Happy Hannukah!!”
Kids clamor to meet us, collect our cards (see mine above), and get their picture taken with us. It’s such a great experience! We tell jokes, stories, and spread good tidings of great joy. It’s cold, some days are dreary with rain, and sometimes the wind cuts right through a body, but talking to strangers and turning a random face into a split second holiday friend is inspiring and spirit lifting.
Since Christmas is largely a secular occasion and Christianity “borrowed” their traditions from pagan worship, I find no harm in celebrating and partaking in an event that is promoting happiness and laughs.
Although I love this job, this year wasn’t my favorite of all my years. This year, the other winged creature on the street, Sugar Plum Fairy, was not among us. The actress who played her for 5 years was “not hired back”. The official reason – she accidentally cursed after mistakenly flushing during her drug test. The cursing was a violation of our “Code Of Conduct” which says Christmas characters don’t know naughty words.
I won’t get into the details – just Google it.
Laura, formerly the Sugar Plum Fairy, is a highly talented, hilarious, irreplaceable actor. I contacted to ask her why they wouldn’t give her her job back. Did she cuss someone out? Did she threaten someone? What did she do?!?!!
She says all she did was accidentally curse, and repeatedly tried to call the City of St. Charles to get her job back as they were very good at not returning her phone calls, and crying while begging for her job back. She says her crying and begging was embarrassing and pathetic. But anyone who has ever been “let go” before can attest to becoming a blithering idiot. I know I have.
This was all very sad for me. I knew she had many, many fans who looked forward to seeing her every year.
However, the part that saddened me the most…
Seeing and hearing our fellow Christmas Traditions cast, crew and directors snide, sarcastic and scroogy comments regarding her media attention. Some of which they posted on Facebook.
I’ve heard the, “Well, there’s more to the story!” But if this evidence isn’t presented than why would I jump on the bandwagon of trashing my former co-worker. She didn’t do anything to me… or to any of us. In fact, in all of her media attention, she kept reminding everyone to NOT boycott the festival and she herself would be attending to show her support of the rest of us.
This year, in the depot (where we costume up) felt very different to me. Out on the street, it was still wonderful and magical. The weather being unseasonably beautiful, we had a record year in terms of the number of people who came out. But in the depot, there were times when I wished I hadn’t returned. Some of our cast and crew, the people who worked with Laura for years, would have private discussions that weren’t meant for those of us that supported Laura to hear. I’m no dummy. When I walk up and you awkwardly change tone, inflection and words… the jig is up.
Regarding my support of Laura, I would do the same for any of my fellow Christmas Traditions family members. I would support anyone who was “fired” or “not hired back” unfairly and had the courage to speak up and say, “This unfair thing happened to me, I’d like my job back.”
I would not throw them under the bus, especially publicly.
Of all my jobs and all of the wretched and mean people I’ve encountered in my lifetime, I never, NEVER, expected to have to endure the venom and judgement displayed by my Christmas Traditions family. We are supposed to be gracious, cheerful, supportive and have integrity.
Why the hateful words?
Aren’t we better than this?
We are a family! Why is the atheist being the least judgmental? What happened to your beliefs of ‘do not judge lest ye be judged’? AAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!
I was disappointed this year. The magic in the depot didn’t appear for me, it was tarnished with jealous, sarcastic, judgmental words.
My friend, Laura, returned as the Sweet Tooth Fairy as she was hired by two merchants on Main Street, because they believed in her. Thank you to Grandma’s Cookies and Riverside Sweets for making our Saturday afternoons in December a little more Fairy Christmas :) Grandma’s Cookies even sponsored a Food Drive, aptly named, Hunger Is A Naughty Word in support of Laura, trying to get her job back before the season started.
The Holiday Season 2011 was bittersweet. Ups, downs, the good, the bad and everything in between.
Thanks, Sugar :) FAIRY CHRISTMAS and a FLAPPY NEW YEAR!
The Reason Of The Season is a new series that will take place from December 1 – December 25. I, like many non-theists and non-Christians, love the holiday season. I love taking the this chilly time of year to remind the people I love how much I love and adore them, to help and give to those less fortunate, and feel the innocent hope of when I was a child. This series is an effort to educate many on tradition and history as well as an opportunity to share why I love this time of year and the traditions we use and have created in our family.