First it was the six-year-old from Virginia writing a letter to Santa Claus that would have left the Jolly-Red-Dude shaking his head. The boy explained in his letter that Santa Claus had an “emty life” and there were no boys or girls on his nice or naughty list. His mother was proud of his disdain for the big guy.
Then a self-described Christian evangelist showed up at a Santa Claus house in Alaska and announced to the children that Santa was a fake. Just a man dressed in a red suit. The children were understandably freaked.
Seriously, what has Santa done to heap such criticism. He thinks kids are the bees’ knees, believes in giving, and was green before we even coined the phrase. (Using, of course, an organic form of transportation!)
From the time my daughter was old enough to understand, I encouraged her imagination with the richness of these beloved characters. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy. I even created a “Cabin Fairy” named Valentina who wrote Eden letters and left small treats in her advent calendar every Christmas season. Eden believed the fairy lived in a tiny cabin. A present from my mother. By the time she could put crayon to paper, Eden was corresponding with Valentina on a regular basis. At one point she was writing her all year long explaining about piano lessons, vacations, and friends. I had a tough time keeping up with her because her letters were so prolific.
I know this fairy made Eden feel special. I also believed there would be a time when Eden would set aside her fairy just as she did other childish pursuits. (Sort of like I don’t have birthdays anymore…imagine that!)
And she did. It was a gentle letting-go, and today she claims she has a special place in her heart for Valentina.
Eden was also raised to believe and appreciate the goodness and love of God and to celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas.
To me it’s not an either/or situation. It's an all-in thing. I believe you can love God and still enjoy the magic of Santa Claus.
Eden was reluctant to hear there was no actual dude named Santa Claus. But she knew at a certain age those characters only existed in make-believe. Santa Claus was a particularly hard one to accept. Although I believe Santa does exist on some level. I hate to get all existential on you, but I have seen the Spirit of Christmas impact even the scrawniest of souls.
But I digress.
This is not about shifting the focus of Christmas away from the birth of Christ. But embracing another aspect of the magic of the holiday. Santa Claus embodies that magic with giving, caring, and sharing. Gifts that can last all year. Gifts that can be given through a lifetime.
Santa, the Easter Bunny, and all interesting characters that populate a child’s life were used to bring joy, fun, and a sense of humor into our home. They were not used to cajole certain behaviors or move the message away from what is ultimately important.
They were introduced with love. Just another way for me to give Eden a childhood filled with flights of fancy and fun. A springboard for her own imagination. And I saw that richness in the stories she wrote, the songs she made-up, and the plays she wrote and directed.
Every kid deserves a chance to be a kid.
Every kid deserves.
To see a slice of the world that is not filled with skepticism or hate.