This past holiday season my oldest daughter had one present she truly wished for more than any other. Whenever asked on the lead-up to Christmas what her No. 1 request from Santa was, she replied with this same item. Every time, never changing her mind, she stuck to it.
There were other items on her list and letter to Santa, but this was the one item she wished for more than another. All she really wanted was a snow globe, but not just any snow globe. She wanted a snow globe that depicted the North Pole with Santa’s house inside.
At the time, I thought this one was easy, a no-brainer that we could find at any number of local shops. After striking out locally, however, I still didn’t panic. How could I? A request this easy? There must be dozens of different North Pole snow globes out there. I thought, being the master of the interwebs that I am, I could track one down easily. And I struck out again, and again, and again. Beginning to feel desperate, we enlisted the help of the grandparents to track one down on their travels. They found globes, but did they find the North Pole? No.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. There were plenty of snow globes out there. Lots of Santa and Christmas trees, Santa with presents, Santa in his sleigh, and Santa with his deer, but not a single one of a snowed-in homestead. There were plenty of religious snow globes out there, too. More than I ever would have imagined: mangers, baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. But was there one of a house in a snowscape? Nope.
So, like any other father on Christmas Eve, I set out to make one. It was totally the 11th hour, and I felt like a huge failure for not finding a real globe. But I wasn’t about to let her down. Did I feel pressure? Tons. But how could I let her down? It wasn’t like she was asking for a pony or another enormous and exorbitant item. It was a simple snow globe.
My wife earlier in the week found some homemade directions for making homemade snow globes. She, unlike me, could see the writing on the wall and was much more prepared. She, unlike me, had a Plan B in place, thankfully.
My wife not only had the directions, but she’d found a neat little glass jar, the key to her make-it-yourself snow globe. The jar also had a very cool design on each of its four corners that I painted green, and when they were dry, they looked like four balsam fir trees.
While at my parents’ house the day before Christmas Eve, I found an ornament that with a little painting I turned into the Claus homestead. Along with some fake snow, water, loads of silver glitter, Teflon tape, and an obscene amount of hot glue, the snow globe was done. Honestly, it was a pain to make. The jar just didn’t want to seal. Every time I thought I had it tight, it leaked water everywhere. It was maddening trying to get it done at that late hour, but I eventually got it watertight. We wrapped it and placed it under the tree along with the rest of her and her little sister’s presents.
I really didn’t expect her to think much of it, especially being the sub-par Emmett-Otter’s-Jug-Band-Christmas-kinda-present that it was. However, she squealed. She loved it. She really was excited, and each time someone asked — either over Skype or in person — what she got for Christmas, she would run and retrieve and show it proudly.
At first, it was pretty embarrassing. I cringed when she showed it to people. When other kids showed off their iPod Fives and iPad minis, my daughter held up her glue-gunned snow globe. She recognized right away that it was homemade and was excited to think Santa Claus himself had made the globe for her.
It was then, after I watched her explain to her grandparents how Santa made it just for her, that I appreciated the globe a bit more. It was then that I realized that the effort, the ever-loving frustration, and the love itself that went into it was worth more than any of the presents we had purchased.
I don’t know if she’ll love it a month from now. I don’t know if she’ll remember it next year, or when she’s 16, but I do think she’ll remember it when she’s up late on Christmas Eve when she’s a mom. I hope she does. Maybe I’ll still be kicking around, or maybe I won’t, but I hope that dumb globe is still there when she’s laying presents under the tree. Hopefully, she’ll give it a shake, and when the glitter swirls around she’ll feel the magic that globe brought her and especially to me this holiday.
Mark Freeman is a resident of Hyde Park.MORE IN Perspective
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