Column: Magic of Santa is for everyone
Do you believe in Santa? Yes, of course you do. Who can honestly say that there is no Santa! So as we approach the Christmas season, we still have many reasons to believe.
My uncle used to say that there are four stages of the "Santa Story." First, you believe in Santa. Then you stop believing in Santa. Then you become Santa. Lastly, you end up looking like Santa. The big guy in a red suit is more than just some made-up token of gift-giving. When people claim Christmas has become "too commercial" they might point at Santa as the culprit. Hey, don't blame him for the push, shove and chaos that surround Christmas shopping! He was the one who gave that one meaningful gift per child, from a sleigh, on a wintry night, with nothing but true and good intentions. We all need a little Santa in our lives.
When children are told that Santa is coming, their parents have created one of the biggest faith-based magical stories of all time. When my teenage grandson asks why the myth was perpetuated, I point out that some day in his life, he will need to believe in something that he cannot see, touch or explain. But you can still imagine. And dream. And one day in your future you will have to hold on to something that seems implausible, unattainable and highly unlikely. But you will try and then believe and begin to grasp, that the things you aspire to might be possible. Santa showed us the way!
When you stop believing in Santa, you will not be angry with your parents. You have just grown up and will realize what a grand story of love and generosity you were handed. Not to diminish the birth of Christ, but to accentuate that the world wanted one big celebration. And celebrate we do. So Santa and a group of elves work all year to make that one special gift that might make a child's heart sing. The baby doll with curly brown hair, or the red bicycle with training wheels, or a teddy bear and blanket to call your own. Santa seemed to know what we wanted and brought gift giving to a whole new level.
No child would go without. All you had to do was be good throughout the year (not even very good) and you would wake up knowing that giving and receiving is about joy and love. We received not because of our skin color, wealth, privilege, need, location or physical attributes. We received a gift because we were a child of this blessed world.
Everything about the Santa story was fabricated to make us believe that there was an entire season that embodied goodwill, family gatherings, cookies, presents, candles, trees, church and faith. Millions of kids everywhere would sit on the rotund elf's lap to recite what presents they would like and why they deserved them. Parents stand for hours with squirming children in tow, then get the gifts, stay up late and make sure Christmas morning is one big spectacular surprise.
When you have children of your own, you become Santa and find yourself creating the biggest fantasy of all time. You never knew giving could be so important. And in a culture that seems completely self-absorbed, we discover that giving is about someone else. It is an unselfish act of thinking, planning, making, building, shopping, baking and wrapping with a bow an item that represents caring and appreciation. We go to tremendous efforts to fill the stockings with all the little things that show love.
Santa is an all-inclusive sort of guy. He may be regarded as a Christian symbol of Christmas, but religion doesn't matter to Santa. He gives willingly, freely, kindly and completely to kids throughout the world. He had and has no lists of religious affiliations. Just believe and he will show up. A common thread in his mass appeal is that he lives to give, to bring joy through some small parcel, a few good toys and unselfishness that is often lacking in a troubling world. When children throughout the course of time ask, "Is there really a Santa," the answer has always been universally the same. "Yes, there is a Santa. He lives in the spirit of humanity, in each of us, exemplified by the essence of giving to others."
No, we shouldn't blame Santa for making Christmas too commercial. His legacy of thoughtful planning, undying devotion, exemplary work ethic and fondness for cookies should be the gold standard for what giving and sharing is all about.
There will times in our lives when we are plagued by problems, illness and loss. We grow from wide-eyed children into skeptical teenagers to cynical adults. The way we see the world begins to change as we mature, experiencing many lumps and bumps along the way. We have big worries and bigger problems. The world is a scary place. And then comes along Santa.
So this Christmas season is upon us and the true meaning may sometimes get lost. But take heart, there is a jolly man in a red suit who will show all of us that to give presents, laugh, eat cookies and sing carols, is to spread joy. The rich traditions of the holidays are all intertwined into a tapestry of sharing that extends throughout our lives. Santa changes us. Believe in the power of determination, unbridled enthusiasm, unmatched anticipation, the magic of Christmas and a really good cookie. Oh, and it's good to wear red.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at email@example.com.