When did you start believing in Santa again?

This is the time of year when parents and little kids go through a faith-check on the whole Santa question. Adults take it on faith that a part of growing up is first believing in Santa and then not believing in Santa. Kids have faith that Santa is real and that everyone in the world is not lying to them about Santa and a whole bunch of other topics.

As a kid, I figured that if Santa had the whole night, with all those time zones, that he could spend more than an hour per time zone to get the job done. Tight, but probably doable, I figured. When I realized that this wasn't possible, my parents asked me and my big mouth not to ruin it for my little sister, which I was okay with. At this point, some people would be aghast that my parents ever perpetuated such a fraud and horrified that they made me a co-conspirator. Truth is, it didn't bother me then and it doesn't bother me now, because, well I never stopped believing in Santa Claus.

Most adults, in the rush to grow up and appear worldly and wise, often try to cast off and distance themselves from what they consider childish things. So they start drinking coffee, stop believing in Santa Claus and complain about how worse kids are today than they used to be, just to come off as an adult. It's all a bunch of immaturity in the guise of maturity.

I'm not going to dive off here into an intellectual discussion of the benefits of imagination and fantasy for small children and the mean Burgermeister Meister Burger adults who are hell bent on ruining all that. That's for another post.

Here's the truth: Santa does exist and his existence is easy to see. His existence is real, from a certain point of view, as Obi-wan Kenobi would say. Children around the world send their wishes to Santa by visiting him, writing him, etc. and he in turn shows up and delivers presents and grants wishes to them on Christmas. The Santa system is more readily observable than quasars, gods, air pollution and imaginary friends. It wasn't until I became a parent that I fully understood how real he really is.

No, there's no jolly old man with 8 flying reindeer who squeezes down chimneys. If that reality makes you not believe in Santa, then I am sorry to report that the only reason a dollar is worth a dollar is because we all collectively believe that it is - it's not backed by gold or anything. It's literally not even worth the paper it's printed on (the linen it's printed on is worth less, actually). Yet there's no reason to lose faith in something because the actual reality doesn't gel with the mythology or the marketing or the conventional wisdom. That's an adult understanding of the world.

If you look beyond the childish 'adult' belief that Santa doesn't exist, you realize that he does exist and that his existence is quite magical. Parents and other caretakers are Santa's elves and his reindeer. They make the system work by scurrying around to make Santa real. They are the source of the magic in the worldwide system of Santa. The whole society, from the Post Office that delivers letters to Santa, to Toys for Tots, to malls and churches who host him, to NORAD who tracks him on Christmas Eve, pitches in. It's a naturally occurring phenomenon that is older than automobiles, more resilient than the electrical grid, and would be harder to eradicate than hate if anyone was stupid enough to try.

So what is Santa if he's not a man? He's a metaphor and an icon (thanks to Coca-Cola), but at the core he's really a vessel for parents' love of their children. He's a third party love reflector, built from parental love and capable of receiving children's overpowering love and trust (because parents would melt like buttuh in a blast furnace if they got a full dose of it). Because it would be overpowering and fraught with the usual parent-child obstacles if it was direct. The mechanics of it might be materialistic but the reality is that it's about love.

And that is easy to believe in.

1 comment:

Bulworth said...

Since Senator Bulworth grew up a fundy Christian, he never believed in Santa Claus. He believed in God and Jesus. Now he believes in something called the flying spaghetti monster.