The day our childhoods ended was the day we learned Santa Claus was not actually a real figure, but instead just a folktale that consumes our childhood holiday memories. After that shocking realization, the holidays no longer have the same magical zest. Our best behavior is no longer forced due to the constant reminder that “Santa is watching,” and we no longer deliver letters to the post office that are addressed to the North Pole. Christmas Eve is no longer accompanied by the heightened excitement of tracking Santa on the Norad Santa Tracker as he makes his monumental journey, and the threat that Santa will not come if we are not in bed at an early hour no longer influences us into an 8 pm bedtime. We don’t secretly wake up at 2 am anymore to peek under the tree and see what Santa brought, and the Christmas morning tradition of squealing with delight when reading Santa Claus’s note by the half eaten cookies no longer occurs. A part of the Christmas magic dies when our belief in Santa Claus dies.
I am not at all implying that Christmas is only about Santa Claus and gift giving. For every culture and every individual, the holiday season has its own unique meaning. However, Santa Claus is an important to the holiday traditions and memories of many, and the holiday’s meaning often changes when a child finally learns that the Santa Claus who lives in the North Pole with his elves and reindeer that comes down every chimney in bright red suit and leaves presents and eats cookies is not real. While this Santa may not exist, I am a firm believer that Santa Claus exists in the heart of everyone who believes in the holiday season. To many, the meaning of the holiday season includes the spirit of giving, which Santa Claus perfectly represents. While Santa Claus may not exist in his red suit and white beard, he exists everywhere around us.
Santa Claus is the person who is ringing the salvation army bell outside Walmart on a cold, windy day, and each of the beautiful souls who pause and insert a few coins or even a dollar into the bright red bucket. He is the people who adopt angels off of angel trees and provide them with the perfect Christmas they deserve. Santa is the woman in front of you at Starbucks in the SUV who generously buys your coffee on a busy morning, even though she’s never even met you. He is the man who buys the homeless person lunch and he is the volunteers at the soup kitchen. He is the soldiers overseas and the first-responders who spend the holidays away from their families. Santa is not just the folk tale character in a red suit who delivers presents to children all around the world, he is the spirit of giving, and he exists in everyone who takes a second to go out of their way and help someone else out.Christmas is about many different traditions for many different people, and while Santa Claus is often considered the tradition that dies when we are 10 and then is reborn when we have children of our own, maybe Santa never actually dies. Instead, maybe Santa is all around us, every single day. Instead of residing at the North Pole, he resides in the hearts of the giving people with the spirit to give, and he doesn’t just appear on Christmas Eve but on each of the other 364 days of the year.