Of COURSE there's a Santa Claus

We are, it turns out, born to be believers. And that’s a good thing. According to a recent article by Wall Street Journal reporter Shirley S. Wang, imagination is a valuable asset, beginning in childhood:

Imagination is necessary for learning about people and events we don’t directly experience, such as history or events on the other side of the world. For young kids, it allows them to ponder the future, such as what they want to do when they grow up.

“Whenever you think about the Civil War or the Roman Empire or possibly God, you’re using your imagination,” says Paul Harris, a development psychologist and professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education who studies imagination. “The imagination is absolutely vital for contemplating reality, not just those things we take to be mere fantasy.”

So we start out with Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, and grow up to comprehend health reform. As my daughter, a nurse, said to me today, “Really, Mom, I just have to take everyone else’s word for it; there’s no way I can read those thousands of pages.” Nor I — but we are people of (varying) faith.

Although we grown-ups may have gotten realistic about Santa, studies say most of us have faith. Faith in God, Allah, the teachings of the Buddha — doesn’t make a lot of difference. But faith — belief in some power that controls human destiny, belief that doesn’t rely on logical proof — is worth having at any age. Mary McLeod Bethune, a great lady who was smarter than most of us, said, “Without faith, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.”

Many of us celebrating the babe in the manger this week, along with many who celebrate other happenings and symbols, cling to the belief that there will actually, someday, be peace on earth. Even if it seems impossible.

My son (who is now 50, so don’t tell him I’m still repeating this story) was a true believer child. We had, at our house, a little green elf who arrived on December 1 and spent the next 23 days perched on light fixtures, curtain rods and high cabinet tops; Elf moved around a lot. He watched to see if everyone was good or bad, and on Christmas Eve he flew off to cruise with Santa. One December night, when my son was about 8, possibly older, I was turning out the light as he posed one last question. “Mom,” he said, “I know about Santa Claus, and I know Dad is the Easter Bunny, and all that — but… but how does the elf get from one room to another?”

You gotta believe. We have a health bill, not what we wanted, but the biggest reform in generations and something to build on. The jobless recovery means millions of kids belong to jobless parents, but Santa will come to many of them with the help of a host of community groups. All over the country, Muslim and Jewish volunteers are pitching in to relieve their Christian friends at soup kitchens so the latter can go home and read The Night Before Christmas to their kids.

Peace on earth, goodwill to all.

One response

  1. Why do kiddies believe in Santa Claus?

    Its because he does all those nice things for them unless they are
    bad. Of course there ain’t no Santa Claus. So parents lie in order to
    keep the kids happily in line and trick the gullible tots by creating
    false evidence for them. This is how they start to teach the kid about
    the pleasures and fears of a mystical daddy who is watching them. It
    also lets parents get Santa to do some of the daddy stuff. If you are
    bad Santa won’t be nice to you!

    Santa Claus is god for beginners. Of course he is rarely as mean as
    the other guy so you don’t want to start off on the kid right away and
    scare him too much.
    Only later are the kiddies ready for learning about the invisible
    Superman upstairs who though he’s never around when needed is said to
    be able to do just about anything. First you learn that he loves you
    like daddy does now and Santa used too. But unlike Santa this guy gets
    very upset if you don’t believe in him and do all the things your
    particular brand of the superstition business claims he wants. People
    believe this because it says so in the superstition business manual.
    Its an old tradition. Somewhat older than Santa.

    Unlike Santa this mystical daddy will only do really nice things for
    you after you’re dead. That is provided you obey some guy who says
    that he understands exactly what the manual means.
    …May the farce be with you

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