It is Christmas Eve! This Christmas is a bit of a benchmark for our family. By the looks of it, this will be the last Christmas your little brother believes in Santa. I say he still believes, but he’s already considering the strong possibility that his parents are behind everything.
Then there’s you. You’re ten, and you still talk as though you believe. I think deep down, in your secret heart, you know, but something in you wants to hold on to the dream, which I understand very well. Holding tightly to such things can be harmful in some ways, but only if you cling to it as a means of solidifying your identity. This is a trap we as humans fall into all the time, and it’s an every day part of life for most of us, especially Westerners. As I see it, there’s a sure fire way to know if you’ve fallen into this trap yourself: if you bristle with anger every time someone calls a particular belief of yours into question––whether it’s a political point of view, a religious one, or something trivial, like what sort of smart phone you prefer––this is a sign that you’ve taken that belief in as a part of your identity. It’s not healthy, for you or for others, and so long as you’re stuck in that sort of pattern, you’re limited in your ability to grow.
But there’s another way to believe in Santa, a way that feeds your soul. You can approach the story of Santa mythically. You’re a little young right now to fully grasp such an abstract concept, but I imagine you’ll be plenty old enough by the time you read this, if you ever do. When I use the word “myth”, most people equate it with stuff that’s just made up–“just a story.” I’m learning there’s no such thing as “just a story.” Stories exist for a reason. Look at Jesus. Look at how he taught. He rarely spoke directly, which frustrated people, but he did it for a reason. Jesus taught with stories because he was conveying concepts that are too big for simple words. He was trying to relay eternal Truths, which can only be communicated through Story, and even then, merely hinted at.
Santa is like this. Santa is a lie that is actually True. Funny how we see his image plastered all over retail signage––a lure to try and snare people in the trap of consumerism––when in reality, Santa stands for quite the opposite. Santa isn’t about buying tons of stuff for the sake of obligation. He’s about generosity. He’s about charity. He’s about laying yourself down for the sake of those in need. I hope you see him in this way today.
I wonder if you’ll have kids of your own by the time you read this. I wonder how you’ll treat the story of Santa Claus with them. Knowing you, you’ll make it special indeed.
Merry Christmas, son.
I love you always, Dad