Every time around Christmas, the same conundrum seems to come up among my friends and family with young ones: How to keep the belief in Santa Claus alive. When kids are really little, it’s easy. There are so many things beyond their comprehension that even the microwave seems like magic. Hell, I remember throwing my dirty clothes in the magical hamper and *poof*–clean clothes! Then there comes a time when they learn what is alive, what electromagnetic and radio waves are, and see the clothes washer in action. It happens.
The other side of the coin are those that swear they will never lie to their kids. Obviously, this was before they had kids because I can’t count how many times saying “McDonald’s is closed” waylaid tantrums. These are our rights as parents. Live by them; breathe them. The parents that swear they will never lie to their kids about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny were burned themselves as kids. They’re angry that their parents could lie about something so deep as Santa Claus. I get it. Believing someone is real, then learning that person never existed can feel like a huge betrayal of trust.
However, I think telling kids Santa is a real person does a disservice to him. I am by no means advocating that we don’t tell our kids about Santa Claus. I’m advocating that we teach our kids about faith and humanistic values. For instance, so many of us believe in (insert name of your Higher Power here) and tell our kids to treat others the way they want to be treated, to not sin or do harm to others. That’s a feeling. We have faith a Higher Power exists; we don’t have to see it or talk with it everyday.
I personally don’t believe in “God” because, again, it does a disservice. How can you compact such a great Power into a concise package; something so great and omnipresent that our tiny, limited brains can’t even fathom It’s greatness? I know It exists when I see something beautiful and it stirs my soul. Or when I hear a child’s belly laugh and it brings tears to my eyes. When we, as humans, show the compassion and depth we are capable of, I know something greater is at work. Ask your child what they feel when you hug and kiss them and when something they hoped for happens. Ask your child where they feel love. THAT is Santa Claus. He is more than a man that comes around once a year, at least he should be.
Baxter still believes in Santa Claus and I am grateful. He has a very scientific mind–just ask the magician Bax heckled at a birthday party. From what he learns at school he knows Flurry, our Elf, isn’t real but he still believes, has faith, in her magic. When our kids start to put two and two together, the belief doesn’t have to end; it can transform. That feeling of wanting to help the less fortunate and be kinder to people is Santa Claus. The excitement of finding that perfect gift for someone, giving it to them, and watching the expression on their face is Santa Claus.
I didn’t celebrate Christmas, or any secular holiday, growing up. My religion didn’t allow it. I do not consider myself a Christian but I do consider myself someone who believes in love, kindness, acceptance, charity, and individuality and that is what Christmas is. That is what Santa Claus represents. He doesn’t have to be corporeal–true magic isn’t. He is faith. The love you feel for friends and family is faith. Your Higher Power is Faith.
I believe in Santa Claus.
Our kids will some day stop believing in Santa the man. But, with our guidance, they can believe in the magic of Santa; his spirit. They can have faith in the feeling in their heart. That’s where Santa Claus lives, with all of the other good feels. We can believe in what lives in our hearts. We can have faith in that.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. May the spirit and true meaning of Christmas always be a part of our children’s lives.