Confirming the Magic of Christmas

Our CEO, Jarrett Pumphrey, recently wrote a little something for a section of our company newsletter called Checking in with Jarrett, and in light of the Holiday Season we wanted to share his touching story with all of you.

What is your favorite and/or funniest holiday memory?

One of my most memorable Christmases happened when I was a little kid. I was probably 7 or 8 years old, right around the age you start questioning whether Santa is really the magical figure of your fondest Christmas memories or just the creepy old man at the department store whose lap you were forced to sit on year after year. I suppose I was getting old enough to spot that the details of department store Santa just weren't quite right: the fake, too-thin red suit with the plastic belt; the yellowing beard; the crooked, toothy smile; the sour breath. There was a twinkle in his eye alright, but it gave a whole different meaning to "Have you been naughty or nice?"

I decided I'd test this whole Santa thing. Either my parents had lied to me my whole short life and I'd be devastated (devastated!), or Santa was, in fact, real and his department store counterpart was just having an off season (totally plausible).

I went to my room, closed the door, and formulated my plan. I thought it was pretty clever: I'd ask Santa for something totally random but not tell my parents and definitely not tell pervy department store Santa. If Santa was real, he'd magically divine what I wanted, and I'd find it waiting for me on Christmas morning.

Brilliant! Foolproof!

I settled on my random gift wish: crayons (that's about as random as my 7- or 8-year-old self could manage). For good measure, I never spoke a word about it, and I never wrote it down. I just thought it, Santa, if you're real (please be real), bring me a box of crayons. The regular kind is fine.

On Christmas morning, my brothers and I crept downstairs to the tree without waking my parents. Waiting for us like mounds of sparkling treasure were gifts upon gifts that had magically appeared overnight. Some were wrapped (those were labeled "From Mom & Dad"), and others—the big ones, the cool ones—weren't (those were labeled "From Santa").

Immediately, all thought of disproving Santa left me. Of course Santa was real! He brought me a big pile of toys—he had to be real! I think I was high on new toy smell.

As I worked my way through my pile, finding video games, but no crayons, a race car, but no crayons, a Transformer, but no crayons, I started to come back down to Earth. I can't say I was sad—I had a big pile of toys after all—but maybe a little disappointed. Santa hadn't heard my wish. He wasn't real.

By the time we'd finished opening everything, my parents had joined the fray. As we cleaned up all the trash and wrapping paper scraps, my mom reminded us we hadn't yet checked our stockings. I pulled mine down and looked inside. There was the traditional candy cane and chocolates we got every year and then something else, something deep down at the bottom I couldn't make out. I took out the candy, reached deep into my stocking, felt around a bit, and pulled out a small yellow and green box. I flipped it over in my hand and across the front it read "Crayola".

I'm sure my mom thought I had an unhealthy appreciation for those crayons that year. Little did she know that for me, those crayons forever confirmed the magic of Christmas.

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