December 9, 2013

Why I Believe in Santa Claus

Do I believe in Santa? ...
Why yes I do!

I have some friends and some family who seem to be, in my opinion, a bit confused about what Christmas really means, and they somehow seem to think that we have lost the 'true' meaning of Christmas. I need to clear things up, at least as far as MY beliefs and feelings go, about this most wonderful of holidays.

Recently, I was sent a link to  a site that warned about the origins of the 'pagan mythology' that makes up a lot of our Christmas traditions.  While much of this 'origins' stuff is true, I say that these beginnings in history no longer matter ... they are not, nor have they ever been what Christmas means to me, or to anyone that I have ever shared this holiday with.  Some of my friends follow a different religion than I do and they don't celebrate this holiday, but for me, although Jesus name is used in the word Christmas, and it embodies his love and the giving of his blessings (including the greatest gift of all), it's not just a Christian holiday either.

Why do we celebrate on December 25th?

Christmas isn't just about the day that Jesus was born, which it turns out wasn't even in December... It's about love, and sharing, and giving, and most of all, it's about magic. I don't mean the scary 'magic' of horror stories, nor the supernatural 'magic' of fantasy tales, but the true magic born of loving others more than you do yourself (the most important lesson that Jesus had for us all)... and Christmas Magic is for the children, including the ones who still live somewhere inside each of us.

We all know that children grow up very fast, and they learn way to soon just how hard and cold the great big world can be. The world can rapidly become one of disappointments and sorrow... of missed opportunities, and angry words... of the daily struggle to fit in, and the tests we must study for.  Christmas is the one time of year that little ones can still believe in a world of magic and wonder... a belief that will far too quickly fade as the 'real' world takes over their lives.

Why Santa?

Yeah, in my family we still do the whole Santa Claus thing. The kids still look forward to that magical visit, and surprise presents under the tree, and cookies and milk are always left out for Santa (with the occasional carrot for Rudolph, too). They hang their stockings up, hoping they've been good enough to get fruit and candy, instead of a lump of coal, but they know in their hearts that they have been ... most of the time.

Around the age of 10 or 11, each of my kids was inducted, by a very sacred and solemn ceremony into the Secret Society of Santa Helpers, <two winks and shake your invisible bell>  and that year, they got to stay up later than everyone else, and help make sure that Santa's 'visit' came off without a hitch.

Sadly, some people see this as being dishonest. Here I must beg to differ. It is not about keeping any kind of truth from the kids, but instead it's about keeping alive that little spark inside them, that will grow into faith ... and to stop the joy and wonder about the endless possibilities that life might hold from turning into cynicism and skepticism and drudgery ... for the world is far too full of all the things that try to make that happen as they grow up.

My brother and sister and I always celebrated Christmas. We hung our stockings, and we left cookies out for the fat guy ... and we were always amazed and delighted Christmas morning after he came. It didn't turn any of us against Jesus, or make us pagans or atheists, nor did the disappointment when we "grew up" make us bitter or resentful about being sold a fake story.  It was simply fun and magic and special, and it helped us to become the people we are, with faith and love and joy inside, even if we sometimes get buried under all the 'reality' that is out there.

I Believe!

I refuse to stop believing in Santa, because I believe in love and hope... and I believe that God has given us opportunities to instill a sense of joy and wonder, and yes, magic, into future generations. For me, Christmas, with all of it's commercialism aside, is still an excellent chance to give these gifts to my kids, and their kids, and hopefully their kids, on down the line.

I for one, will not make my grandkids or ANY kids have to face the burden that our cold reality can be, any sooner than they have to. Childhood is fleeting, and Christmas Magic doesn't last in it's purest form .. that of childhood ... very long, so I try to keep it alive as long as possible. And as a charter member of the S.S.O.S.H., I will believe in Santa forever.

To me, although I do celebrate the birth of my personal Savior on this day ... it doesn't matter what religion you are, nor who or what you perceive God to be ... Christmas is still the time for giving freely to each other, for sharing love and laughter with your family and friends, and if your little, to have a hard time falling asleep on Christmas Eve, listening for those sleigh bells.

May you all be blessed with love and joy and happiness -  and a very Merry Christmas,

... From Grandpa's Heart

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