Norton: The spirit and reality of Santa Claus
Last week I happened to catch an article about our Generation Z population regarding Santa Claus. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines Generation Z as “The generation of people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s.” The message was based on interviews with a few people from that generation and their belief in Christmas, or primarily their belief or disbelief in Santa Claus.
The few people that were interviewed expressed their opinion that they would not raise their children to believe in some chubby Christmas elf called Santa Claus. They were not willing to lie to their children about some mystery man who went to each home delivering presents, and they were certainly not going to sign the label on the gift “From: Santa Claus.” The questions that popped into my head were about how they may have been raised. Did they enjoy the mystery of Santa Claus? Were their gifts signed, “From: Santa Claus?” And if so, where, and how did they become disillusioned?
This isn’t the first time someone, or a group, has tried to cancel Santa Claus. For some reason they just feel like sharing the mystery of Santa Claus is a lie that shouldn’t be perpetuated. So now I feel it’s time to help defend jolly old Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, Santa Claus against those who wish to see his name and the tradition disappear.
The origin of Santa Claus stems from a monk who was from what is now modern-day Turkey known as Saint Nicholas in A.D. 280. Saint Nicholas was known as the saint who watched over children. It is also said that he gave away his wealth and helped the poor and sick. So indeed, there was a real Saint Nicholas. And over all these hundreds of years, the spirit of Saint Nicholas has continued to grow the tradition of giving, helping, and giving hope to one another. The season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the greatest time for giving; during this time we see the spirit of abundance everywhere.
I have such great admiration for all those volunteers who represent the Salvation Army, ringing their bell as they help drive donations to an amazing organization. Do we want to cancel those volunteer Santa Clauses too? That would be an absolute shame. And a huge shout out to all of you who take your shifts being Santa and ringing in the Christmas spirit of giving, and doing it regardless of the weather, you are all awesome.
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My guess is no one wants to intentionally lie to their children about a mysterious and magical Santa Claus. As I think back to how I raised my own children, we emphasized Santa Claus; we had them meet Santa Claus and get their pictures taken; they wrote letters to Santa; and yes, we even left cookies and eggnog for jolly old Saint Nick. But we also spoke to the spirit of the season and what we could do for others. Maybe it was paying some utility bills for someone, donating money or time to the rescue mission, helping a neighbor who was in a difficult spot and couldn’t afford gifts that year.
The real reason for the season is obviously the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. May we never forget this, no matter the numerous attempts that try and commercialize the season or the day. And going back to our original Saint Nicholas in A.D. 280, may we remember where the spirit of Santa Claus began, and may we do what we can to ensure that the spirit of Saint Nick lives on and in us all.
How about you and your family? Is it all about the gifts and only the gifts? Or does the spirit of Santa Claus help you to embrace the season and the day with abundance, giving, helping, and providing hope to our family, friends, and those who need a hand up? I would love to hear your Santa Claus story at email@example.com and when we can stop trying to cancel the spirit of Santa Claus, it really will be a better-than-good life.
Michael Norton is an author, a personal and professional coach, consultant, trainer, encourager, and motivator of individuals and businesses, working with organizations and associations across multiple industries.