A mother cradles the baby boy in her arms, while Dad holds his three year old sister by the hand. The line is excruciatingly long, and they pray that the young ones will remain in good spirits as they inch their way toward the destination, Santa’s lap. There will be the obligatory photo to mark the occasion. It is a holiday tradition played out in various spots all over the country at this most wonderful time of the year. But there is also something powerful at work here, something significant behind the symbol of the jolly old elf in his big red suit. Indeed, the values we learn as children from Santa remain with us for a lifetime.
Santa is our first lesson in faith as we come to trust in the miracle which we cannot witness. When we wake on Christmas morning to the enchanting and much -anticipated surprise that the bearded fat man and his flying reindeer delivered as we slept peacefully, we reinforce the concept that we don’t have to see the magic to believe that it is real. And as we grow older, we are given a menu of spiritual, political, social and cultural ideals from which to choose. Ultimately, we are shaped by these principles, strengthening that faith we learned in those early years.
Santa teaches us that we can ask without expecting to receive. As children, we craft a wish-list, an often unrealistic fantasy of everything we could ever want. We are given license to dream big with hopes tied up in a brightly wrapped package. But as we are often admonished, we may not always get what we want. And when we don’t, we quickly learn that nothing tangible is guaranteed and disappointments don’t last long.
Santa demonstrates to us how to give freely and unconditionally. We come to understand that there is power in the sheer joy of giving without expecting gratitude or reciprocation. It is a form of sacrifice and a demonstration of love, which helps us to learn what that means it its purest sense.
Santa shows us that wonderment and imagination are mighty fine to behold. To suspend cynicism and disbelief in the midst of a demanding modern world, to accept and appreciate rather than doubting, often brings us happiness as it reinforces an emotional connection to everything around us. The land of enchantment is a pretty wonderful place to visit occasionally.
And so we are admonished by Santa to keep the spirit of Christmas alive throughout the year, to redouble our efforts to be kind and generous, to view the world with childlike amazement. Wouldn’t it be lovely if indeed we could? Perhaps for all of us, this should be our most important resolution for the New Year.