Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.
The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor adults can see nor touch. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that is not proof that they are not there. Did you ever touch the stars that twinkle in the dark night sky? No, but their very existence gives us hope that there is more to this world than what is here in front of us. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders that are unseen and unseeable in the world. Imagination and hope, though, can give you a hint at what might be, and all you have to do is believe.
You know what is amazing about children? They see things and imagine things and know things that are magical. They believe in things that are not tangible; lack of tangibility does not make them less real. These intangibles exist because children embrace curiosity and the amazing. As we get older, and (supposedly but not necessarily) wiser, we become more and more blind to possibility. We see less and less the shades of grey, and less capable are we to think of ‘what if’ or ‘what may be’ and other magical notions. The idea of magic itself becomes laughable; explanations are important. Is it such a bad thing to believe in magic, in fairy tales and in wonder? Is it such a bad thing to believe in happily ever after? I believe it is a good thing.
The beauty of Santa is the beauty of believing in good. In giving. In the good faith of others. None of these are physically tangible, and yet are as real as you and me. Santa IS the holiday spirit, the family togetherness and feel-good moments that we love so much about the holiday season. The beauty of Santa is that his magic – maybe magic in general – does not need to be restricted to only December; who wouldn’t want to experience holiday magic any time of the year? Why can’t we be kind, happy and generous year-round? Would that even be possible? I believe it is.
Ironically, children believing in Santa is a reaffirmation for parents, too: not only is it a chance for them to relive the magic of their youth, but it also allows them to embrace the feel good spirit of practicing random acts of kindness ... because isn’t that really what the spirit of Christmas embodies? Reaching out to others, giving, celebrating togetherness. The underlying generosity and openness of the season is a large part of what we appreciate about it. It’s not just that we want to receive gifts (but, really, who doesn’t like a heart-felt gesture?), but it is also the beauty of one’s own generosity. The joy we get from watching someone open a gift that we spent time finding - it’s a really great feeling to make another person happy like that. I believe watching your kids interact with the magic that is Christmas is a beautiful thing.
5 ways to keep the holiday magic year round:
1. Gratitude – Yes, one side of Christmas and the holiday season is all about getting. For many, it is all about gimme gimme gimme, and what is under the tree (yes, even some over the age of 10). But try, if you can, to focus on the flip side: how amazing is it to receive a generous gesture from a person who took the time to find or make just the right thing just for you? Savor that thought, as you pay it forward. Gift your favorite cookie, an e-certificate or even a hug; give it heart-felt, whatever ‘it’ is, and with the best of intentions. When it’s your turn to receive, say thank you. And mean it.
2. Generosity – Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could take the gift of giving and spread it over the year? Every week, think of what you could give or do for others. Do everything with others in mind. Cook for others. Buy two of something and share it. Pay for someone’s late fee, coffee, or taxi fare. Include others in your Friday dinner or regular lunch out. Invite the quiet girl to join you. Give someone a lift to the grocery store. Lend your favorite book to a friend. Pay for the next car’s toll. Buy an extra cookie for someone else. Pay a gesture of kindness towards you forward towards another.
3. Kindness – Besides generosity and having a pleasant disposition, what is kindness? I view it as the quality of having a concern for others. It is the glue that makes humans humankind. It is our ability to look out for one another, and to reach out to other living things, be they people, pets, or other living creatures. It is doing good just because and connecting with others without thought of benefit to yourself. The existence of the quality of kindness is one of the greatest predictors of relationships (friendship, marriage, etc) that flourish. Kindness towards others is actually good for your health and well-being. Reaching out, and doing for others is, in turn, good for you, too. Another reason to try and reach out, besides, of course just embracing the spirit of generosity.
4. Admiring and respecting beauty – Don’t just walk around; walk around and SEE what is around you. Everywhere there is something to admire and appreciate. Show your kids what you appreciate and what you enjoy; you may be showing them something new. Let them do the same for you: kids see so much beauty in what we adults might typically consider mundane. Let me tell you, I have learned so much from see things through my kids’ eyes (maybe these are things I knew as a child, too, but have forgotten; I so appreciate the reminder!). They really are so very much more observant about things. They see connections I am blind to, and they notice beauty where I see none. I appreciate so much when they help me color my life with their own view of appreciation and color. Seeing things through their eyes – seeing things through another’s eyes – is a splendid way to appreciate more. A priceless gift, if you will.
5. Acceptance – There is no one right way, no one right attitude, no one picture of beauty, no one thing that works for every person. Every group of people has at one time or another done injustices to others; don’t judge them. Just don’t be like them. Learn from their mistakes, and their bad fortune. Instead of making blanket assumptions about people based on skin color, religious preference or group affiliation, make a conscious effort to see each person for the individual they are, the good they have to offer, and get to know them. You will see beauty you never knew existed, just by seeing below the skin surface. Who knows, maybe they will learn from you too; give them a good example of the qualities described above.
You want to know where Santa exists? Everywhere. And nowhere. To find him, you have to look in your heart and into the heart of others. Make a practice of doing that. The more and more who do that, the more and more the holiday magic really WILL exist year-round. Because yes, Virginia, I do believe in Santa Claus. I do believe in the magic of Christmas. I believe in magic, and in hope, and in possibilities.
I hope you do, too.