US diplomat recalls childhood Christmases

By Joseph Yeh

Christmas has always been a special holiday for Americans. Not only it is associated with the universal message of peace and goodwill, but it has always been a great day for children because of the gift-giving and the spirit of wonder, says William Stanton, director of the American Institute in Taiwan.

“I remember when I was a kid waiting for the Santa Claus to come, even though I knew long before I actually admitted it that there is no Santa,” muses Stanton.

But it is somehow nice to maintain the fiction because of the excitement it brings to children. And it is a harmless myth that has some positive effects associated with the spirit of giving and charity, a universal positive theme one can find throughout the world now about Christmas.

It is also a time for hoping for better things in the upcoming New Year, a hopeful and happy time, says the AIT head.
Even though the holiday has become more commercialized with time, Stanton notes that the point is, the children are happy – and more importantly, it is also related to charitable activities.   

The de facto American ambassador explains that in his mind he always associates the essence of Christmas with the city of New York.
“My mom used to take me and my sister when we were children to Rockefeller Center every Christmas for the huge Christmas tree and to watch people ice skating.”

“We also visited the Radio City Musical for its Christmas song and dance festival once or twice. Then we would walk along Fifth Avenue window shopping, to see all the wonderful decorations and displays.”

This will be the first Christmas for the AIT head during his tenure in Taipei. Stanton says he will be flying back to the US to spend the holiday with his wife and two daughters in Washington, D.C., where his daughter will put up a Christmas tree, a family tradition.
“When I was a child, I always tried to convince my parents to buy the biggest Christmas tree they would agree to, and it took a great deal of time to decorate it.”

“I always took great pleasure in decorating the Christmas trees,” he adds.
Stanton says he would also hang stockings with names on them by the Christmas tree so Santa Claus would know who to give certain gifts to.

“Even though now my two daughters are 23 and 19 now, they still insist on doing so and even put out cookies and milk for Santa,” he adds. It’s all a part of the Christmas traditions that are passed from one generation to the next.

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