When Santa Rinpoche Came to Town

Lavinia Spalding
<b class="credit">Dolly Spalding</b>
Dolly Spalding


When I was young, I was a stickler for Christmas traditions. If my father forgot to wear the Santa Claus hat, I pouted. If we didn't watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," I cried. If hot cocoa wasn't served with breakfast, I was capable of a four-star conniption. Dinner was roast goose or Yorkshire pudding -- any substitutions and I about lost my mind.

By all accounts, I wasn't actually a difficult child, but when I was 10 we moved from New Hampshire to Arizona, and I didn't adjust well. I missed our farmhouse and my friends, and I clung to these annual rituals because they made our new house feel like a home. And then I continued clinging, for 20 more years, until the Christmas I learned to let go.