Monday, December 7, 2009

Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

The holiday season is rapidly approaching and despite tough economic times and a year filled with personal challenges, many of us sense building excitement as twinkling lights and decorated trees begin to appear.

As holistic-minded parents, we may view the season's arrival with both anxiety and happiness. We may dread the commercialism of the holidays; the wastefulness of the cards, trees, and wrappings; and the unhealthy temptations that creep into our diets. But we may also celebrate the sentiments in which this season is embedded: generosity, family, love, and giving. Embodying these virtues is the jolly figure of Santa Claus, a legend of the season that is hard not to embrace. My eight year old puts us on the spot regularly about the existence of Santa Claus, looking for evidence to demonstrate that he is real or any indication of a total commitment to the fantasy in either of his parents.

Our response? We wax poetic about jolly old Santa Claus, leave him gluten-free cookies (and organic carrots for his reindeer), and insist upon the veracity of his being. Although we may be roundly criticized for telling tall tales or being dishonest with our children, we believe that Santa Claus is, in fact, a part of all us. Yes, we know that the legend is grounded in the benevolent Saint Nicholas and his penchant for giving to children and those less fortunate and that there may well be some truthful historical roots for the character we celebrate today. But our certainty about the existence of Santa Claus is an acknowledgement of our personal philosophy that people are essentially good and generous at their cores, and that love and giving are values we all want to live by.

So when asked by my older son "Mom, do you really believe in Santa Claus?", I can honestly say "yes" because I have seen people who give of themselves every day, people who anonymously reach out to help someone who is struggling, people who dedicate their lives to making the world a better place for all of us, people who radiate love and generosity, light and passion. I believe in the magic that Santa can create by bringing smiles and love to families, opening hearts, and how his presence (real or mythical) inspires us to give and to share. I believe in the Santa in all of us and celebrate the season that allows us to bring forth that positive, loving energy. Besides, who can resist a good belly laugh?


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  2. Hmmm... this is a thought provoking topic. One many around me discuss this time of year due to the concern of lying to their children. But what is a lie when it comes to faerie tales and childhood stories? What is real and what isn't?

    Anyone want to chime in on this with me?

  3. With the incredible pull of peer pressure and kids trying very sly tactics and saying anything to lure others to try drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, sex, etc., I want my kids to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have NEVER INTENTIONALLY led them astray so that hopefully they will never question anything we have ever told them when faced with these difficult situations, as I'm sure it won't be IF but WHEN they occur. (They may still question, but hopefully not due to a seed of doubt planted during their formative years.)

    I would have to say that many kids find out that Santa isn't real from their peers, and usually during the formative years when kids are learning truth, trust, and values. So if their friends were right about Santa Claus (a BIG thing to a kid in early childhood), what credence does that lend to peer vs parent information down the road? 'If my parents lied to me about this back then, why should I believe them now when Johnny said "X" won't hurt me now...?'

    I feel supporting this deception only leads to confusion and possible distrust later on.

    We apply this to the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny as well, though my children know to play along and never ruin the "surprise" for anyone else who may believe. This was not an easy decision for my husband and me to make and yes, we have received a bit of criticism for it, especially from his family, but I believe that trust is one of the biggest things any two people can have between each other and one of the biggest values a family can have with one another. If you can't trust each other, then to me, there is no solid foundation upon which to build a relationship.

  4. Thanks for this Julie, that's what I have been doing, too, with my daughter, now 13. She gets that Santa is a spirit, a frame of heart, and even when she was itty she knew the Santas that she saw around town were the 'real' Santa's helpers.

    Of course at 13 she is exasperated with my simply being, not to mention eye-rolling because I believe in Santa.

    And she still trusts me.

    It begs the question, when pondering whether Santa is real: how do we define reality?

    This thing is telling me to choose a profile, I have no clue what the choices mean. Let's see what happens....

  5. I think it's a struggle parents face every day. We "lie" to our children when we say the world is a safe place when it may not be on that day or at that time. We "lie" if we say that we will always be there for them or we'll be there in a minute, when it may be five, or that something might be "fun" when it turns out not to be. The question of how we define reality is also a fascinating one, especially as holistic-minded parents. How do you define health and well-being? Where does health come from and how do we reconcile allopathic approaches to well-being with integrative ones with differing realities? Thanks to everyone for their great comments!


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