I still believe in Santa Claus. Not in the way that I did when I wa a kid, where there was some guy sneaking into my place when I was asleep and possibly leaving me a gift if I’d been a good boy all year, but more in the spirit of what takes place. Santa is my personal representation of the holiday spirit.
Do we deserve gifts for Christmas? No, it’s not our birthday. Even for Christians, you’re celebrating Jesus’ birth; why do you get a present? Nazareth should be covered in presents. But, and I imagine this is due to the mixing in of the pagan rituals and all other history I didn’t feel like Wikipediaing, we give folks we care about presents. We take time to try to find them something they’ll like, appreciate, need (even though they don’t want to admit it), or perhaps want. We take this time for some unknown reason as we get older. Now, up until a certain age, you have a certain vision of Christmas – it’s your free day. You get whatever you want as long as it’s within logical standards. I know growing up, I tried not to ask for too much – I played with action figures for a long time, letting my imagination run wild, so I hope my presents weren’t too expensive. Then came the video games, but even as a kid I knew that those things were expensive and that if I didn’t get it, nobody dropped the ball – Santa just couldn’t get it done this year. And that’s ok.
But some jolly, morbidly obese man with magical reindeer manages to traverse the world in one night, delivering presents everywhere is more for a child’s imagination than an adult’s. But as a teenager and an adult, the shift in how one views Santa happens. My shift was to take the whole “secret gift giving” and embody that spirit. As I type this, I’ve got my family’s gifts in front of me (and I’ll be doing my wrapping shortly), and I love that I’m going to get to play Santa – the guy knows what you want/need/could use, and gives it to you with a catch – you don’t know what’s inside of that box. And maybe I enjoyed the surprise so much as a kid that I wanted to maintain that as an adult. But I love being able to give the surprise like I did last year for my Mom by giving her photos of our family unit that she didn’t have (she’s a photo nut and doesn’t have many of us, particularly me after age 15 or so) and see her face light up because she never saw it coming. The art of the (good) surprise is part of the holiday spirit, to me.
You know what else is? The willing gift-giving. At some point, it becomes just a thing you do, but until I reach that point, I really enjoy trying to find something that my folks will enjoy and be able to use or like having. There’s no pressure, there’s no heat, it’s just something I want to do because this is the cultural gift-giving day, and Santa epitomizes that gift-giving mentality. He has no profit, no business, no real reason to travel the globe, passing out presents. I’d surmise he’s some sort of an old man with a serious problem of some sort (elves are slaves as far as I can tell), but he gains nothing from the gift-giving. It’s a philanthropic endeavor, and that philanthropy is part of the holiday spirit, to me.
Look, I could give a lecture as to the problems with Christmas, with the created Santa Claus character, and everything in between. I recognize all of that – BUT I also recognize that I do enjoy getting into the holiday spirit, surprising my family with gifts and happily doing it. Those aspects of Santa always stuck out to me. And you know what? They helped to mold my interpretation of the “holiday spirit.” If you don’t like it, you can deal with it because it sounds like a personal problem. Either way, if you’re around family, spend time with them and cherish it. If you’re not – call up somebody and fellowship with them. But enjoy your holidays, folks.