Monday, December 04, 2006

Is there really a Santa Claus?

Is there really a Santa Claus?

For many years, I was told there was no Santa. For as long as I could remember actually.

As years in my family progressed, the decorations slowly stopped being important. It seemed that I (the youngest of 4 children) was the only one interested in the holiday spirit. I'll admit back then most of my exuberance wasn't really holiday spirit, but excitement about what I might get for Christmas. But I tried to spread the holiday spirit anyway.

Then I grew older, and was the only person left in the house with my parents. Decorating a house for the holiday's isn't much fun by yourself, and when you're a teen its not that much fun to do with your parents.

So slowly over the years, it seemed Christmas died. Or at least the Christmas of my youth.

My family is very religious. And over the years, Santa became a taboo pagan thing. The Christmas tree was removed from the holiday at first due to allergies (allergies to real trees and the mold on our old plastic one), then the tree became taboo because it wasn't directly reflective of Christ's birth. Then bows on presents went. My mother always hated bows, thought they were a waste of money. Which they honestly are, and when packing up presents to travel, bows get really smooshed. It seems year after year, the little efforts of the holidays went goodbye one after one.

Christmas became blah. Another mundane holiday.

I had gotten used to this, and honestly hadn't really thought about the loss of Christmas spirit. Something had bugged me about the holidays, but I just couldn't pin point what it was. Until I read a letter posted by an online friend of mine.

This letter is one she wrote to give to her daughter to answer the question: Is there really a Santa Claus?

"I have always told you - Santa is real to those who believe in him. If you say, “I don't believe in Santa,” or think it's something only “little kids” believe, or you join in in making fun of others who do believe, then you are closing the door on something wonderful. It makes my heart sink and feel heavy to hear a young child say they don't believe in Santa, as though there's only one truth and one way to believe. There's so much more to the story, so much more to understand.

Is there a Santa that wears a red suit and is led by a team of reindeer and flies over the whole world in a single night? I don't know, because I've never seen him. Does that mean he can't exist? I would be very limited in my thinking to believe that. Do I as an adult still enjoy going to the window each Christmas Eve and looking up and wondering if I'll see him sailing through the sky? Yes, I honestly do. Why? Because I love the feeling I get deep down inside when I allow myself the joy of believing, the joy of imagining what might be. Should I stop doing this because I am too old? No.

When I was little, around 5 or 6, I guess, my brother told me Santa wasn't real and called me a baby if I chose to believe. He said I should think as he did. I finally got old enough to realize that there doesn't have to be just one answer.

You should know that long, long ago there was a real man named Saint Nicholas. He lost his parents when he was very young, and he used his inheritance money to do as Jesus commanded (to sell what you own and give to the poor). He tended the sick and the poor and the needy for his whole life. He was very generous and was known for his kindness and generosity to others. Stories have been told of how he secretly left gifts for people to help those in need. He was also a protector of children and there are many tales that tell of his wonderful deeds. He was a real man, but he is no longer living. His work has lived on, though, through others. We, as older children and grown ups get to share in the joy and get to help Saint Nicholas continue the work he began years ago in each small gift we share, in each surprise we create and each time we are responsible for bringing a spark of joy into someone's life. We are Saint Nick when we give to others. That's exciting! There's no room for “I don't believe in Santa” in that kind of Christmas. There's only possibilities.

You may already suspect it, so I will tell you honestly that I help to fill the stockings and to purchase the presents. Why have I done this and why have I kept it secret and allowed you to believe? Because it's my part of sharing Saint Nicholas' joy. When we allow another young child to believe (maybe you, your sisters, or a neighbor or younger friend), and we don't spoil the mystery for them, we are helping them to learn that it's OK to believe in something. It's OK to believe even if we can't see it or touch it. That's how we learn to believe in God. That's how we learn to have hope.
Santa is very real to those who believe in him. That's the truth, isn't it? " - Written by Cath

Hope. Christmas and the Christmas spirit is all a celebration of hope. How could we forget?

So get out all your tinsel, and lights, and celebrate the season. It might seem like a lot of work, but if we all pitch in together and spread the holiday spirit.. We just might find hidden hope we lost.