Cartier: Is Santa real?
Who is Santa? Some would say he is a cheerful person who visits once a year and doesn’t overstay his welcome. He leaves his pets outside, and always arrives with presents. In short, the perfect guest!
A version of Santa has survived the test of time in nearly every culture across the globe. In the United Kingdom, there’s Father Christmas. In Italy, there’s Babbo Natale. In France, there’s Pere Noel. In Russia, there’s Ded Moroz. In Chile, there’s Viejo Pascuero. The names are different, but the spirit is the same.
For many, the traditions of Christmas are religious, for others it is a cultural mid-winter holiday — filled with parties and good times, and for some it is simply a day to relax and recover from a month-long spending spree.
Every year, parents are faced with the challenge of trying to explain the existence, or not, of Santa. It is never an easy task. Why? What does the idea of no Santa mean to children? Why is it such a sad conversation? The presents would still come. The tree and lights would remain. Why then, is it so upsetting? And is it true? No Santa, really?
Who is Santa? Why is the story so relatively consistent around the world? What is the common thread? Why does the image of Santa continue from generation to generation?
Thoughts of hope, compassion, generosity, happiness, tradition, recognition of good deeds, the inspiration for the future … Santa sees it all. And, doesn’t it feel great to be recognized for the good we do all year? Isn’t it nice to think that those acts of kindness won’t go unnoticed? That family and friends are spending their days thinking of something special to do, just for us? Christmas provides precisely the right moment to share your love with those who make the rest of the year so significant.
The knowledge that even during the darkest time of year, there is a bright spot, a sense of security that everything will be OK … that someone notices your sacrifices and rewards you for them … that all the family squabbles are temporarily set aside, replaced by love, appreciation, and giving.
Of course, they love you all year, and receiving presents is always fun, but how often do we intend to do something for someone and time just slips away and it never gets done? Christmas allows us a very specific time and focus for showing our appreciation for all that we have, and an ability to share that with others who may have so little. It’s one day a year specifically dedicated to giving.
Why does Santa live on? Because hope lives on. If we tell a child there is no Santa, for many, it means there is no hope, there is no love, no dreams come true. Why does a child of age 10, who clearly knows that a fat man in a red suit doesn’t really come down the chimney every year, still look so brokenhearted at the thought that Santa may not be real?
Maybe it’s because, in every child’s heart, they know that the spirit of Santa lives eternally. It’s not about the bearded man in a red suit, or flying deer, or elves making toys … what Christmas represents, whether religious or secular, is love shared with family, friends, and those in need; and faith that wishes really can come true. It is a reset button on what we’ve come to expect of ourselves and others. It’s a global celebration of goodness. A reminder of times past, with the inspiration of times yet to come.
Santa is a hero to millions of people because he represents the good we strive for; the desire to help those less fortunate; the opportunity to show our appreciation to those we love. Santa exists to remind us of our better selves. Santa lives in each and every one of us. And, the next time you hear someone say that there is no Santa, just smile, and remember that they simply haven’t recognized the hero within themselves, the Santa that lives in us all.
Jacqueline Cartier is a political and corporate consultant in Colorado and Washington, D.C. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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