I want to talk about Santa Claus. I know that might sound silly and I know that Christmas has many aspects to it. It has its roots in medieval paganism, Christianity, and more recently secular commercialism. But there is something pretty profound that I have come to realize about the man in the red suit. He is real on some level. Don’t read this to your kids though, as I want to delve into the real and unreal about him.
Every year after Thanksgiving I get excited for the Christmas season. Getting the Christmas decorations down from the attic, having friends over, listening to Christmas music, bringing those scented candles out of the closet! This year especially, I’ve really noticed how the act of gift giving has brought out the joy in others. Sure that could be considered materialistic but it’s the intent behind it that I see as the joy. And ok, I flat out enjoy spoiling the ones I love. Of course it doesn’t need to be all about that. There are kind gestures I have received from friends, that didn’t cost a penny, and those are often the gifts that give me the most joy.
But I’ve seen it in the malls and stores as people are standing in line and they are excited to share with even perfect strangers what they got for their husband, their daughters, their best friends. Why? Because they want to share their joy with those around them. In the past I’ve seen the opposite, but something is different this year. I don’t know why that is, I’ll leave that up to you to decide. I can’t help but think to myself, what is it that makes people so happy about this time of year? What should be a cold, bleak, depressing season, as it is for many people out there — especially those who have lost someone dear to them — tends to be the season of positivity. And part of that might have to do with, historically, the need to spruce up this depression we get from winter but I think it goes beyond that. I think we need this time of year because it gives us an excuse to be kind in a culture that tends to value the ego over the spirit.
My partner, Pat, was telling me that he misses the magic he felt from Christmas. He remembers looking out his bedroom window into the night sky hoping to catch Santa flying through the stars on his sled. This wonder and magic was the spirit of Santa Claus running deep in the heart of a child. I had a much different experience as a kid. For me the fantasy of Santa Claus was killed from a very early age. However, this forced me to turn inward and create my own sense of Santa Claus and Christmas. I realized on a deeper level, even from an early age, that Christmas was not about gaining material possessions, but rather the fulfillment we get from the love and peace we receive and give to others. Santa Claus may not be flesh and blood but the energy of Santa Claus is real and in that sense he does exist. When I shared this thought with him I could see that Pat felt the magic of Christmas again because there was still a glimmer of hope that Santa exists somewhere on some level. This is truly a novel idea. And the more I think about it the more I realize that Santa Claus is indeed a spiritual entity — an archetype. Think of the beautiful lights you see on people’s houses. This is a reflection of the light within us all shining through. The inner world is being manifested into the outer world at this time of year. We have joy in our hearts and we want the world to see it. That is the spirit of Santa Claus shining through us. That is Spirit itself shining through us. There is a desire to help others when when this spirit is within us. I recognized this as we were hanging Christmas lights on the front of our house this year. Our neighbor saw us putting up the lights and came over. We hadn’t ever really spoken since we only recently moved into our neighborhood. But he came over to introduce himself and offered to lend us his ladder. That is the kindness, the joy, and spirit of Santa Claus influencing us.
I think we can all agree collectively as to what is Santa Claus. But it doesn’t really matter what he looks like what matters is what he stands for. It’s this agreement we have all made about what Santa does that brings his spirit to life. Of course, Santa Claus is based on a real man, Saint Nicholas, who helped the less fortunate, but it is now his essence, which is that of selfless giving that brings him to life year after year. This should be a reminder to us all that it’s not the material possessions that we amass in this life, or how beautiful we make ourselves look that we will be remembered for but the actions we took in life that will become our legacy after we are gone. We have such an amazing power to control and maneuver our own path in life and affect the world around us. As a group, as a society, that power is even greater. We see time and again the destruction that can happen when a society agrees that a group of people are less valuable than another but the same is true for the power we have as a group to act for the good of others. Our thoughts and feelings wield such an astounding power. So much so that we are even able to bring to life the spirit, the essence, of a man who has been dead for centuries. That is pretty amazing if you think about it! Understanding this power should heighten us to new spiritual levels, which is perhaps part of the reason why so many people become joyful at this time of year. When you are tapped into the essence of Santa Claus you are tapped into selfless love of Spirit. This is the time of year to remember the legacies of the ones you’ve loved and lost. Remember them, talk about them, celebrate them with the ones you love so that you may keep their essence alive as we all have done with that of Santa Claus.