So…we’re going to ease into “The New 12 Days of Christmas” with this declaration: Santa is dead.
Okay, glad that’s out of the way.
Of course, this is a touchy point this time of year. Actually, it came out of a discussion we had around the office recently. “How do I deal with Santa and my spirituality?”
There is an unmistakable convergence of religion this time of year. But let’s face it: there are some of us who can’t hold the Baby Jesus and Santa at the same time. This conflict of religion and secularism (or commercialism) is a very real crisis for many of us. Especially young parents. So, what do we do?”
If you don’t know an elementary school teacher, you need to find one in the next couple of weeks. Ask him or her if this tension is a real struggle for parents.
I just so happen to know an elementary school teacher really well and her latest story is a true tale from her classroom. She had one set of parents, a bit rigid in their thinking, who told their son “Billy” that “there’s no such thing as Santa.” Of course Billy, in an effort to cling to the idea of a magical man who brings presents every year, responded, “Well, “Cindy’s parents told her there is a Santa!”—to which Billy’s parents replied, “Well, Cindy’s parents are lying to her.”
It didn’t take any time for Billy to spread the news around the classroom. And just like that, Santa was dead for a classroom of former believers. A small part of the childhood seemed lost forever.
All of this came full circle for me the other day. I was watching Polar Express, not a big deal, I have kids. Now, to be fair, my kids are in college but I like that film in spite of its creepy animation. Remember in the movie how the little boy can’t hear the little bell? At the risk of overdoing the psychology of it all, this is symbolic of not being able to hear the Spirit of Christmas.
What does this mean for us? Somewhere along the way of growing up, some of us have forgotten how to play, how to have fun, believing in something magical. We’ve lost the connection with our childhood. So my question to us all this holiday seasons is, when did we lose that ability to play? To have fun?
This time of year, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Santa drops off gifts once a year and appears to only eat cookies and drink milk. That’s a temporary jolt of happiness that tends to fade as soon as all of the gifts are opened. Religion, on the other hand, can change lives and instill joy every day of the year.
The next time you hear a group of kids talking about Santa, listen to what they have to say. Take note of their excitement and their pure joy of this magical time of year. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll rekindle the fun of the season you once loved. And, most certainly, feel free to also celebrate a more meaningful reason for the season.
–Dr. Kevin Gilliland, for the team at Innovation 360