There is a myth perpetrated by such hallowed Christmas stories like Twas the Night Before Christmas that on Christmas eve children will sleep well, their heads filled with wonderful dreams. It is a lovely picture but hardly realistic. Most children are more like me when I was a child. They are restless with anticipation, straining to hear the sound of clattering reindeer hoofs or the jingling of sleigh bells. Meanwhile their parents have hardly settled down for a long winter’s nap. They are too busy wrapping last minute gifts and artfully arranging Christmas surprises for the children to discover in the morning. The kids are dreaming of Santa Claus and the gifts he will bring. The parents are striving to make the illusion of Santa live.
I still believe in Santa Claus. I believe in Santa because he represents the spirit of giving. Santa has a present for everyone. Any child is welcome to spend a few moments sitting on his lap sharing Christmas wishes. Santa doesn’t care if the child sitting on his lap is black, brown, or blue. He does not care if the child receiving the gift is whole or handicapped. So long as the child has been good Santa has a gift ready to deliver on Christmas eve. Each year my family adopts another family at Christmas time. We buy all sorts of presents for all the members of the family. Then, we get to deliver them. This year as we brought packages into the families house the four year old boy, dressed only in underwear, began shouting Christmas. We were quite literally bringing Christmas into his home. We were Santa Claus in that moment in time. It was a powerful reminder that you can get so much more from giving than by receiving even the most expensive gift. It is too bad that too many of us see Santa giving and all we want to do is take. The world would be a better place if we all shared Santa’s spirit of giving, not just giving but giving to all.
I believe in Santa because he is jolly. Santa is endlessly happy, bellowing out Ho Ho Ho to all corners of the globe. He loves what he does and takes joy in doing it. His happiness is infectious. You might catch it by watching a child’s eyes light up with glee upon seeing all the treasures under the tree. You might catch it by being Santa and delivering Christmas to those who are unable to make it on their own. Too many people are not happy doing what they do. Their jobs are not fulfilling and make them miserable. They bring that misery home with them and it infects everyone else. If we all followed Santa’s example and tried to find joy in our lives we could infect the whole world with happiness.
I believe in Santa because he inspires wonder. He is magical. Children everywhere ask, “How does he deliver presents all over the world in one night?, or How does he get down our chimney?” From the flying reindeer to the ability to drink hundreds of gallons of milk and eat thousands of cookies each Christmas eve, Santa is a source of fascination to children everywhere. Children see wonder and magic everywhere. It is the curiosity driven by this view that impels them to learn and grow. As we grow older it gets harder to see the wonder and magic. We get set in our ways and lose interest in exploring the unknown. The unknown becomes something to keep at bay rather than to embrace the chance to know it. I still find magic in the view of the mountains I get each morning on the way to work. I find wonder in my new niece, in her perfect hands and feet, in her furrowed brow. I wonder who she is and what she will become. If we as adults could find a way to maintain the sense of wonder and magic the world inspired in us as children we might be curious enough about the world to learn about those that are different rather than attack them.
Until the adult world intrudes Children are generally happy creatures busy experiencing the wonder and magic of the world. They do not hate unless some adult send the message that they should. I believe that if more of us were to retain these gifts of childhood, the true gifts of Santa Claus, many of the ills of the world would be banished. It is the lack of these gifts that drive us apart, that turn potential friends into enemies. There may be no physical being called Santa. However, if more of us paid attention to all he represents and embraced those things the world would be a better place. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.