This bell is a wonderful symbol of the spirit of Christmas – as am I.
Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.
~Santa Claus, Polar Express (2004)
Bell jingle. Paper crinkles. Candles twinkle. And there’s a Santa on every corner.
It’s impossible to avoid the jolly elf in this country, regardless of your faith preference. This time of year I hear of those who discourage the childhood belief in Santa. For them, they prefer not to perpetuate the focus on Santa for many reasons. Some fear Santa will become a (little g-)god and will replace the focus of the Christ Child’s birth; some people equate belief in Santa with increased materialism and commercialism; others don’t like the idea of gifts being connected to whether a child deserves them or not.
Whatever the reason, that is their position and I respect their decision. But belief in Santa is alive and well at our house…and here’s why.
Santa is magical. In this world of too much reality television and real-life drama to say nothing of what they see on the news, what’s wrong with some good-old-fashioned imaginative fun for a few years? Fantasy is an important part of childhood. That’s why we read fairy tales and other magical, fiction books. Those stories foster imagination and creativity. There is so much ugly in the world, a temporary belief in a bit of fantasy can bring a smile to the face of one who is worried, depressed or dealing with the anxiety of life. There will be enough heartbreak in their lives as they get older…let them create memories of a simpler time.
Let’s face it, have you ever known a child who believes in Santa NOT to get gifts? Yes, sometimes we threaten that Santa won’t bring gifts for naughty children…but really….does that ever happen? Of course not. Santa is the embodiment of gift giving. Like the sunrise and sunset, gifts magically show up under the Christmas tree every year regardless of how often they are threatened that they won’t. Wonderful gifts that are given from the heart out of love….selfless acts that require no return payment on the part of the child.
Santa has not and will not replace the real meaning of why we celebrate Christmas at our house. We are not threatened that Santa will replace Jesus and his saving grace. That message is front and center. The magic of Santa is secondary. In fact, as Peanut was watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas, she announced the Grinch’s heart was too small because he didn’t understand that Christmas was when Jesus was born. And Jesus is love. That was the moment I realized Santa was never going to unseat God. Christ is the foundation. Everything else builds off of that. It’s not Santa’s fault that our culture has hijacked Christmas and turned it into such a commercialism holiday.
The Big Lie is an opportunity to help children understand about selflessness and humbleness; to understand the joy that comes when anonymously giving from the heart. Santa opens the door to discussions about generosity, kindness…and forgiveness. When done correctly, it can be a tangible understanding of the concept of being forgiven for not being perfect. And that can help them understand that bigger concept of God’s forgiveness in our lives when we screw up. The real story about Saint Nicholas/Father Christmas is a beautiful segue in this area.
All fairy tales teach life truths through metaphors and symbolism. With Santa, we will teach our grandchildren about the joy of giving and not demanding.
Christmas Day we will celebrate the birth of God’s son who brought us the best gift of all…salvation and eternal life. Will there be presents? Yes, just as gifts were brought to the Christ Child. We will celebrate our love and generosity as a family. Will Santa bring gifts? Yes….the spirit of Christmas will bring gifts Peanut and Twix did not earn or maybe even deserve. And he will do that in hopes of a few cookies and a bit of reindeer food. 🙂
Santa Claus is anyone who loves another and seeks to make them happy; who gives himself by thought or word or deed in every gift that he bestows; who shares his joys with those who are sad; whose hand is never closed against the needy; whose arm is ever outstretched to aid the week; whose sympathy is quick and genuinein time of trouble; who recognizes a comradeand brother in every man he meets upon life’scommon road; who lives his life throughout the entire year in the Christmas spirit.
~EDWIN OSGOOD GROVER, Vicki Howard’s The Book of Santa Claus