Since my dad is too weak to do much other than put puzzles together or sing along to Christmas carols, we’ve been watching a lot of Christmas movies. I think on last count we had watched 15 already. Watching all of these movies is bringing up a lot of nostalgia and memories. One memory that keeps tickling my mind is the Christmas I stopped believing in Santa Claus.
I was six-years-old and staying with my dad for Christmas. As was often the case, I was too scared of the dark to sleep all alone in my upstairs bedroom so I had snuck down to my dad’s room in the middle of the night. There under the lit Christmas tree were mountains of presents (I was a spoiled child.) that hadn’t been there when I had gone to sleep. I heard a noise in our basement and thought Santa might still be there so I ran into my dad’s room and jumped in the bed. It only briefly crossed my mind that dad wasn’t in bed. I just wanted to pretend to be asleep so Santa didn’t take my presents back. As I was trying to act asleep, my dad came in and whispered for me not to get out of bed again. My six-year-old mind was reeling. Why was daddy up when Santa Claus was there? Was he helping Santa? That would be awesome!!! I eventually fell back asleep.
The next morning I jumped out of bed and ran into the living room to tear into that mountain of presents. As I was opening them, I started to notice a few things I had found hidden in the basement. Slowly I put two and two together. By the time I returned to my mom’s for school, I was no longer a believer in Santa.
I never told anyone I stopped believing because I didn’t want to ruin it for my friends who still believed. Outside I still acted excited about the trips to see Santa, leaving out the cookies, and making a list. Inside, however, I was a little sad. Christmas had lost some of its magic.
When I was 13, I had to write a paper on the legend of Santa Claus for school. Did you know there are literally over 100 different legends about Santa Claus? He’s in almost every culture in some form or another. Most of the legends, however, go back to St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was considered a very generous man who gave to those in need. People began to hear about him and started to copy him by giving to those around them. The gifting spirit spread and spread and spread. I remember thinking how amazing that this man’s memory was able to spread such a spirit of generosity.
Soon after writing the paper, I realised what had been missing from Christmas. Santa may not have been a real person who slid down my, admittedly tiny, chimney, but he had been a spirit that represented what God had intended Christmas to be. You see the first Christmas God had given the world the greatest gift. He made this season a time of giving, and not just normal giving. Christmas was intended to be a time to give in excess, to give above and beyond, to give gifts, to give time, to give celebration, to give love, to give whatever you had to give in the knowledge that God first gave to us. That was what St. Nicholas knew and what he wanted to spread to others. That is what Santa has always meant. That is why I began to believe in him again, and that is why I will teach my children to one day also believe in him.
Nowdays, Santa gets a bad rap as being to commercialised. Santa isn’t the one commercialising Christmas. He is still about giving. We are the ones commercialising him as we make it more about WHAT he/we give than the SPIRIT IN WHICH WE GIVE.
I say this Christmas we take Santa back by remembering to celebrate the season with a spirit of giving!!!
So tell me,
Do you still believe in Santa Claus?
What about Rudolf? I still kinda want to believe in Rudolf too cause he’s cool.
P.S. Check out History.com’s write-ups on the legends of Santa Claus at http://www.history.com/topics/santa-claus. You can also just google him to see some weirder legends like one about him being based on the Norse God Odin . . . you know him as Thor’s father.