If you look closely, you’ll see him hidden behind his more traditional cousins on our fireplace mantle: the ceramic lavender-robed Santa with the gold-tipped, three-point jester’s cap and the big bowl of wassail. Lavender Santa is bad enough, but the wassail looks as if he imbibed too heavily and vomited an entire fruitcake into what was left. Every time I see him, I shudder.
Decades ago, Lavender Santa was a surprise gift from my mother. She lived in a small town where most of the stores were boarded shut, and in her later years it became increasingly difficult for her to get to the larger city an hour or so down the road. But love always finds a way, and she did much of her holiday shopping at the annual local arts and craft show, what my husband referred to as the “arts and crap show.” Though I popped him on the back of his head every time he said it, in my heart I agreed. What is this stuff, I thought, and why do people buy it?
But I never said it out loud, and when my mother presented me with the Yuletide monstrosity, I reacted as if she’d given me a priceless da Vinci statue. When it came time to set up my traditional Santa display, I placed it just-so, in the back row and off-center, right behind a jolly modern Santa and an old-style Father Christmas music box.
Over the years, I’ve moved Lavender Santa from right off-center to left off-center but made sure he remains mostly hidden. This Christmas will be the seventh since my mother died, and since she was never one to hang onto “stuff,” especially stuff she didn’t like, I often ask myself why I keep this “mud-fence-ugly” figurine. I have much better memories of my mother, both tangible and intangible, and in my journey toward Minimalism, which advocates holding on to only those items which bring joy and value into our lives, Lavender Santa should’ve been among the first items I purged from my possessions.
But Christmas is, after all, about love. If God could send his perfect son into an imperfect world that didn’t want Him, I guess I can at least let one imperfect, unwanted Santa stay on my mantle for a couple of weeks.
Love really does–always–find a way.