The Real Santa Claus

By Brent King On December 18, 2014 Under Christian Fantasy, Lessons in Fantasy

FatherChristmasAt this festive season of the year, those who celebrate the Child in the manger often look down on Santa Claus. Though he comes across the centuries with a splash of Yuletide passion, not everyone gets delightfully wet. A tsunami of skepticism drowns many.

Down through the years, he comes to us through myth, story, and song. Yet is this cultural icon really an antichrist, a counterfeit who exists solely to steal the limelight from the baby Jesus?

I Think Not

Though midwinter festivals and the tradition of Santa Claus existed long before Jesus was born, Christians drew these celebrations up into a greater reality. Their hearts overflowed with the joy of Immanuel. This joy embraced diverse cultures, each bringing its own legends and festivals to the jubilee. The resulting pageantry is humanity’s attempt to embody the incomprehensible reality of Christmas. Santa Claus is but one persona of these uncontainable emotions, one of a colorful collection of images and sounds that come to us from antiquity each season.

The words “holiday spirit” come closest to describing the sum total of these experiences. Santa Claus is an enchanted part of partaking in this holiday spirit.

A Magical Spirit

Santa Claus, then, is a joyful spirit that lives inside of me at Christmas. It is this spirit that makes Santa real and, while it is in me, he is as real as I am. To say it another way, I am the real Santa Claus while the Christmas spirit is in me.

So Santa Claus, the jolly gift-giver of myth, lives in me each season—casting magic across my heart and imagination. He is as real as love and generosity. He is a personification of my Christmas Spirit—a symbol of Christmas itself. With other embodiments of the Season, he brings Christmas home to me each year.

Do You Believe?

Yet this holiday spirit only comes to those who believe. Jesus or Santa is only real for me as long as I believe they are real and not a moment longer. When my friends tell me that Santa is not real, they’re right. Sadly, he isn’t real for them, and measure of the magic of Christmas dies with him.

This is true of all feelings and emotions. How many of us live without the fullness of love, faith, or hope because we do not believe. Yet if you believe Santa Claus is real, like I do, then he is. The world, then, becomes a richer place—a place of poetry, fancy, and song. Santa Claus lives there in all of his enchantmented for anyone as long as they want him to—even until you are as old as I am.

The Polar Express is about faith, and the power of imagination to sustain faith. It’s also about the desire to reside in a world where magic can happen, the kind of world we all believed in as children, but one that disappears as we grow older.  – Chris Van Allsburg

Father ChristmasThe malestrom of unbelief has often threatened the joy in my spirit, but I have come to realize that the measure of joy I experience in life is my decision. Choosing to believe in the intangible has made all the difference.

Is Seeing Believing?

Some say, “seeing is believing,” but can everything that is real be distinguished by sight, smell, taste, sound or touch? Love is real; hope is real; happiness is real. Yet can we see or touch them? Sometimes seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we cannot see.*

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood. – Francis Pharcellus Church

Are You Sure?

I’ve heard you are a doubter. I’ve heard you don’t believe in Santa Claus. Are you sure you won’t reconsider?

The human heart is not simplex. Fullness of experience and understanding come to us in complex ways. So the abundance of Christmas exists not only in simplistic understanding, but also in archetype, myth, and legend.

As for me, my decision is made. I will honor the Jesus of Bethlehem by embracing all the fullness of the types and legends that celebrate and point to Him. I will not squander the sounds and sights of the full pageantry of Christmas. I will become the real Santa Claus.

At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell. But as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found, one Christmas, that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I have grown old, the bell still rings for me—as it does for all who truly believe.

*from The Polar Express

Is your holiday spirit running over?

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