What do we do with Santa Claus? Jolly ‘ol Saint Nick.
Some people don’t believe we should propagate the fantasy with kids, some people are neutral, some people go full-tilt fantasy as long as their kids keep believing and then some (*raises hand*).
I’d like to make a case for Santa. After all, he’s WAY too busy today to speak on his own behalf.
This year, my little girl is right on the cusp of belief and disbelief. It’s definitely the last Christmas I can pull off the fantasy. So, I enlisted the help of my dad (an excellent storyteller) to tell the kids about the origins and evolution of Santa Claus…to drive home all those smooshy feelings that keep you choosing to believe in something, even when the evidence is beginning to outweigh the power of imagination.
The original Saint Nicholas, who was later made Bishop and mimicked by countless other secret night-time gift-givers, was so convicted about giving to the needy and providing money, food, and toys to children who had nothing, that it caught on. Talk about a trend worth following!
Whether you’re spiritual/religious or not, the idea of showing basic human kindness to others is something everyone can agree on.
So, the question isn’t really whether you ‘agree’ with Santa, it’s – are you on board with our modern-day take on him?
And, yes, I admit, the idea has morphed into a more materialistic chase that frustrates even the unbreakable Christmas spirit in me, at times. But, we don’t have to let it BE that. Instead of surrendering to the greediness that can be bred by the Santa story, we can use the idea of Father Christmas to do two things:
1. Enjoy the gift of creativity and imagination. There is such beautiful artistry in a great story. Think of the delicious elements of a timeless fairy tale… The way we weave the best aspects of the known world we can think of – pleasure, love, good winning over evil, bravery, sacrifice, etc., along with the supernatural or impossibly wonderful – (i.e. magic) – into a narrative that fills us with wonder… is there anything better?
You do this on a small scale – all the time. Even bah-humbug grown-ups make up miniature fantasies anytime we WISH traffic would just part and make way for us to scurry home, or we close our eyes for a milisecond in hopes that that guy will call us back after a date, or we hope, beyond all reason that it’ll be sunny even when the weather channel says there’s a 100% chance of rain on a special day. We WANT there to be MAGIC. It’s in our nature to yearn for fantasy. It’s why stories and movies like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are so popular!
Passing this on to our children is a gift. The gift of creativity and the gift of WONDER. Teaching them that there is a possibility ….that there exists the tiniest crack in reality that …COULD be magical.
That COULD be other-worldly…
it not only stirs their imagination, but it breeds hope.
2. Appreciate the thrill of anonymous giving. The anonymity that exists in the legend – that is, the fact that you don’t get CREDIT for the gift – gives it a another layer of honest goodness and sweet satisfaction. Any selfish desire to get that kickback feeling that comes when someone recognizes you… is gone. So, it removes any self-centerdness to reveal a pure underlying love of giving and generosity.
Have you ever given a gift where the person never knew it was from you? Wasn’t it divine? This is another certain privilege of participating in the Santa story.
This is a season where that crack of possibility, that there might be such as thing as magic, opens just a little wider;
Our capacity to dream becomes a little larger;
Our willingness to open ourselves up to whimsy and wonder and even the foolishness that a fairy tale brings, becomes greater.
And our reluctance to suspend disbelief starts to chip away.
And maybe for just a moment – BELIEF in something magical becomes a reality. Even if it happens for a fleeting moment…just a flash of “what if?” …isn’t it wonderful?
Merry Christmas to ALL of you, and to all – a good night!