“To perceive is to suffer.” ―
My two year old has been fascinated by “Santa” this year; she describes him as the old man who wears a belt on his big red outfit, and says, “Ho Ho Ho.” So when she spotted an old man in a red tee shirt and a white cotton bordered red hat in the weekend Farmers’ Market, she merrily pointed out, “Santa Santa Santa.”
I saw him from far- an old man in a big red tee shirt, distributing candy sticks to children. He was not a made-up cheerful Santa, he seemed like someone who could mix magic with some logic in his yesteryears. A minute later, a young lady called him near the small Christmas tree, “Can I take a selfie with you?” He obliged with a silent smile, holding his walking stick and nodding to his wife who was standing beside him all this while. The selfie took half a second, just one take, and the market got busier. So he came to my little girl and offered a candy. When she refused, he offered again, “Take it. Don’t you want a candy from Santa?”
We thanked him and his wife, kept the candy for our memory, and went on to buying vegetables. What remained with me was his smile, the walking stick, and his wife’s silent presence like a shadow on a day when most of the traditional American couples were busy in preparing for the Christmas with the family.
Back in car, I started thinking about the couple again- her sad smile, his walking stick, their loneliness in a overly populated market where average age of the visitors is twenty five- maybe their daughter was not visiting them this holiday, maybe she had to care for a sick child of her own; maybe their son had to cancel his visit too, maybe he was stuck in routines of a busy corporate life far from our valley. Holidays are hard if someone is alone beside decorated trees, gift boxes, and unopened cans of memories. Holidays are hard if you have to be your own Santa.
So many stories of our life happen in other people’s biography. The couple didn’t know how much I thought about them this Christmas, how much I thought about my parents who have been celebrating each festival without me ever since I moved out, how much I thought about little lessons that the year dropped here and there.
All my life, I tried to put myself in other people’s shoes when I felt something was not right with them. Maybe that guy was rude to me during my pregnancy because his wife had a traumatic pregnancy and had nobody to help them. Maybe that lady copied my blogposts on her facebook status messages without giving me credit to win some popularity contest because she did not know how to write. Maybe the mean guy was not wrong, time was. Maybe somewhere somebody is fighting her battle just the way I am this year.
Does that always help? I don’t know. I know that empathy makes me a better version of myself. Empathy makes me soft to hardness, open to unknowns, kind to life stories, and walk my walk on an unending single threaded rope because that’s my chosen path. Isn’t that the goal every year?
No matter where the calendar takes us, this goal remains unchanged.
Happy Holidays, dear readers. Thank you for the visit. Apologies for not writing enough this year. In my free time, I have been busy talking to my toddler who sings all carols, gives me new perspectives, changes my “rights” to “wrongs” and brings so much joy by her new found wisdom.
I will write again.
And if you were a Santa in any Farmers’ Market this Christmas, I wish you have a great Holiday and a Happy New Year with the people you love. May you save some candies for your joy too.