I believe and witness it every day, in many ways, in many forms. For this landmark, I will discuss one type of magic that crashes into our lives every year.
I am talking something more encompassing than just a Christian holiday. This magic has an influence on billions around the world, be they Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Atheist.
It effects billions whether they call it Quanza or The Holidays, or Christ's birthday. It is a living, growing, force in our culture. So I hope no matter what you believe in, you will stay to hear me out.
The Wisdom I Leaned as Santa
As I hang up my wig and hat and bright red coat, I begin to think back over the trials and exhultations I enjoyed this past pre-holiday season. I play Santa (I also do the Easter Bunny, and am I fairly good clown) for companies and private groups. I sit in big roomy chairs and have people sit on my lap. Some tell me what they want for Christmas. Some scream and kick. Some just want to give me a hug.
Since I am the introspective type of person, I look back and think about all of this. I learn.
I've learned: 1) Sometimes confused kids are the results of confused parents.
Yes, some kids are scared of Santa. This is to be expected. At a certain psychological developmental stage in a toddler's life, they have major issues with needing to be in constant contact with their parents.
Other kids, however, are confused. Parents spend much of their time warning thier children of the dangersous "strangers" that are waiting to steal and hurt them.
Then these parents take their kids to the strangest looking people, and drop them in these strange peoples laps.
No wonder the kids scream and cry. I would too. The parents just don't see the situation from the child's point of view. They are too focused on getting the perfect picture.
This brings me to lesson number 2: Make Memories, not momentos
I have had kids torn from my hands by parents looking to get thier next child's photo instead of allowing the child a few moments to meet and talk with Santa.
The parents want the souvenier, the picture, the reminder of this great day. They are so focused on that goal that they forget to allow the great day to occur.
I've seen the same thing at weddings, where a 2 hour wedding is followed by 4 hours of photographs. Why? To remind the couple of their wedding day. What will they remember? Sitting around in hot clothes getting photo after photo taken. I've seen receptions after the wedding where every ritual, from unity candle lighting to the ancient rite of the cake cutting loose all signifigance because the photographer and those directing them co-op the event. The cake cutting is not about the sharing of food, but is a photo op.
The kids on Santa's lap rarely care about photo's. What they want is Santa.
What they don't want, or rarely pester Santa about, is the gifts. Oh, there are the older kids, but most of them are as unsure of what to say to Santa as the 4 year olds. Their lists are forgotten. Their voices are murmers. Rare is the child who yells in a clear voice, "Give me this!"
And they are usually coached from parents, evil uncles, or such.
So if Santa is not about the presents, what is he about?
Its not about the threat either. Sure, there is the naughty or nice list, yet I've never met a child who was afraid they would be on the naughty list, no matter how bad they behaved.
Santa doesn't punish.
Santa is a stranger who knows everything about you, and loves you anyway. What could be better than that? (Well, besides God doing the same thing)
But why Santa? Why Christmas?
Christmas became a major holiday, or at least gained much status, during the late 19th century. At that time childhood was being denied. Children were young adults, that is all. They were supposed to play and act and speak like short adults.
Christmas became a reaction to that. Christmas became a season about children. As the decades have progressed we have come to appreciate that time of innocence and fun. We remembered our childhoods with fondness, and strove to make our children's lives better.
Christmas is about the birth of Christ. This is screamed at us each year by Christians who do not want to worship consumption and merchandising.
What facet of Christ is worshipped at Christmas?
It is not his sacrifice that redeems the world. That, most major theme of Christianity, is celebrated at Easter.
It is not the miracle of Mary's virgin pregnancy. That "event" happened months before. Besides, shouldn't we celebrat Mary's virginity with a sexual fast? Twelve days of Celibacy instead of a month of parties seems much more appropriate.
Christians are celebrating the innocence and beauty of the Christ Child. That has grown, marketed by Coke and Sears and a million other companies, to include all children. It is the celebration of children 2 months old or 2 years old or 22 years old. It is the celebration of the child in us all.
Childhood is a part of our lives to be cherished, nurtured, and protected. To often it is stolen, raped and destroyed. Christmas tries to keep it alive and fun.
We lie to kids about Santa Claus, not to laud it over them that we have a secret, or to be able to say, "Stupid, you believed me." We lie to kids about Santa Claus because we want them to enjoy this time of their lives when they can enjoy such a story. We lie to them because, by having them believe, we ourselves believe.
One other Christmas myth I want to debunk before I leave, for this has rambled on long, without the structure I hoped to create.
It is better to give than recieve. There are few joys as great as giving a gift to someone, and having it appreciated.
But that does not mean that recieving a gift is bad. It does not mean that the lust and desire we have for those shiny things under the tree are bad. It is natural and it is good.
We are seeking something magical, some--thing-- that will make our lives better, ourselves sexier, healthier, smarter, richer, but mostly happier. We hope that in each box there exists this mysterious grail that will do it.
This is why some women love to shop. They believe that happiness is finding the perfect shoes that will make them beautiful. They seek the perfect sale that will make them rich.
So I sit every year waiting for presents to come to me that will make me happy. I rip open each package and find just what I asked for, and am not happy.
Because magic items do not come when asked for. They are presented to us when we need them. Any fantasy ready or game player knows that.
Last year I set my mind on the following, Don't ask for what you want. Want what ever you get..
I then made a concerted effort to take every gift I recieved and used it to better my life. I recieved to stone dragon bookends. My first thought was, "Great. These are useless."
I stuck them on top of a cabinet, and placed all my best books between them. The left one I named Logi, for logic. The right one I named Magi for Magic. Between them are worlds of brilliance for me to read again and again. I am happy.
So this is my final wish to you. Enjoy giving the gifts this year, but also enjoy the gifts you get. Don't be disappointed about the gifts you did not recieve. There are too many of them to count. Fate, God, destiny, something determined that these are the gifts you have been given. Its up to you to enjoy them to their best.
That describes my view of life as well. This life is the one that you have been given. Its up to you to choose to accept it, with its disappointments and advantages. Comparing it with the kid with the Game Cube down the street will only annoy the kid down the street, disappoint those who gave it to you, and depress yourself for ever.
(tears in eyes) Thanks, Dan. I'm finding that it's difficult to get into the Christmas spirit at college, without my family. It's there, but it's very distant. That post went a long way toward getting me back there... (smile) Thank you.
Also, edit that thread title before it drives me insane, learned has an r in it...
Posts: 4812 | Registered: Apr 2003
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Lovely post Dan. I've always enjoyed you here and I didn't even KNOW you were Santa! Your lessons are well-learned and well-taught. Thank you. (((Dan)))
Posts: 6414 | Registered: Jul 2000
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