Every year, when I was a child, we would go to Thalhimer’s in Richmond, Virginia, to see the “real” Santa with my Grammy (named Virginia). The most fascinating thing about the process, was my favorite part of it all: Meeting the Snow Queen just before sitting on Santa’s lap. The Snow Queen was seated to Santa’s left, on a golden throne, and greeted us just before he did. She would ask our names and then ask what we wanted for Christmas. She was dressed in a beautiful, sparkly white ball gown, with a shimmery tiara on her head. She was elegant, like a beauty queen. What we didn’t know, was that she had a microphone on her. Santa heard the whole conversation, and when we approached him, he greeted us by name, queued by the previous comments. We thought it was so cool that Santa actually knew our names and what we wanted. This provided “proof” that this was the real Santa. Little did we know, it was a sophisticated hoax. Kind of like the Wizard of Oz. But what a marvelous “hoax” it was. It brought us so much joy and wonder.
Later in life, when I found out what was really going on, the whole plot, so to speak, it deterred me not. I still was fascinated by the Snow Queen, by her grace and feminine flair, and by her poise and lovely presence. In my teens, I still went back to visit the Snow Queen.
I wanted to be the Snow Queen. For years, this was my dream. I wanted to grow up to be the Snow Queen.
It was the same Queen every year. I have often wondered what became of that lovely lady who brought so many children joy. Behind the fluttering eyelashes was a person with a story. Behind the beauty and the flair, there was an individual with dreams, difficulties, feats, and frustrations. I would have liked to have known her.
I still want to be the Snow Queen. Just as I had wanted to be a pageant queen, or a Homecoming Queen, and such, when I was growing up. In my childhood and teenage mind, however, there was no room for a Snow Queen with Bipolar Disorder and the issues with which I struggled. I limited myself.
Perhaps the Snow Queen did have a mood disorder, perhaps she did struggle with depression. Perhaps she pulled herself up by her bootstraps in order to assure that children had a beautiful experience at Thalhimer’s. Perhaps she had financial difficulties, and knew not how she would provide her children with the kind of Christmas that they dreamed of. Or perhaps she had no children of her own, but dedicated herself to the children of others, a symbolic mother to many. Perhaps she was filled with holiday blues, missing loved ones who had departed. Perhaps she was Jewish, and didn’t even celebrate Christmas herself. Or maybe, whatever her beautiful faith was, it was struggling. But she just loved to see the joy on all those little faces. Perhaps she believed in the Spirit of Christmas, in spite of her doubts and misgivings, her upbringing, or her questions about God.
I suppose I will never know.
But in my mind, I am the Snow Queen. In my mind, I have a beautiful, shimmery white gown, a sparkly tiara, and a sceptre with a snowflake on top. In my mind, there is a spirit of magic, spreading joy and light to others. In my mind, the Snow Queen still exists, and lives to spread hope to others.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Snow Queen.