In the spirit of St. Nicholas Day (December 6th) we offer a few suggestions for keeping the magic of Santa alive.
The figure of Santa Claus holds a special place in the heart of anyone who loves Christmas. Belief is not measured in wanting Santa to bring things — belief is embracing the love and hope and joy and giving of the season.
Famously it is said that there are four stages in life: you believe in Santa, you don’t believe in Santa, you believe in Santa again, then you look like Santa. Funny as that statement is the truth is that is the typical pattern of belief in Santa Claus in life. As one matures Santa becomes appreciated for different things at different times.
There are many reasons for that and our purpose here is not to debate whether or not Santa deserves a place in your life. You’re reading this because, in your heart, he does. And perhaps you worry a little bit about those you love, whether young or old, and their belief in Santa Claus as well.
How do you keep Santa special? How can you avoid the pratfalls that come with belief in the Big Guy? How can you avoid the peaks and valleys of belief — the wonder and then disillusionment — that comes with the belief in Santa Claus? May we suggest the following:
1. Learn about who the real Santa Claus really was.
Most never grow up knowing the true story of the real Santa Claus. He was a legendary figure for far more than what most are ever told. His was a life of tragedy and sacrifice, of service and example. His focus on children made him who he was but that true identity — that of charity, anonymous giving, concern for others and Christ-centered belief — was stolen by marketers and merchants who sought to capitalize on his legend and fame. Get back to his roots.
2. Choose your Santa interactions wisely.
The choices in the modern Santa are a minefield. They can lead to either joy or disaster. Santa is depicted in such a variety of ways you nearly have to preview a movie or scout out a venue before taking your children to participate. Movies like “Bad Santa” might be intended to entertain young adults but they insult the memory of St. Nicholas and make a mockery of a figure many hold dear. For Santa to remain an influence of charity and love you have to see those attributes in the media you choose. Choose wisely.
3. Never pay or associate your Santa with anything unseemly.
Avoid those who profit from Santa interactions. We’re not talking your neighborhood mall Santa who works tirelessly every day of the holiday season waiting on lines of children. We’re talking of companies that sell letters and packages “from Santa”, those who extort fees for an appointment “in person” or “by video” to see Santa Claus. Santa Claus gives freely of himself at all times and in all places. Don’t make those who profit from his image or popularity succeed.
4. Become Santa.
The real power behind the magic that is Santa comes from emulating him. You don’t need to grow a beard or don a red suit — you only need to focus on the selfless giving of the season to grasp and enjoy the magic of Santa Claus. Becoming Santa requires work, forethought, strategy, conviction and purpose — all element of a strong character that puts others first.