Everyone in the U.S. knows the story, how Santa Claus flies all over the world on his sleigh pulled by eight reindeer(except when its foggy, then it becomes nine), delivering presents to all the good boys and girls, sliding down chimneys, and doing it all for some milk and cookies. If you dig deeper, of course, there are a number of different versions of Santa Claus, and, some really good stories on his origins, whether you are talking about the Catholic St. Nicholas, or L. Frank Baum’s rendition(which is actually my favourite version), or stories equating Santa Claus to Odin. And then, one day, no matter which belief your family ascribes to, you either figure out on your own, get told by someone else, or have your family tell you Santa Claus is not real.
But…why does he have to be “not real”? To really say, one way or another, one must first decide what Santa Claus is and is not. Is Santa Claus a real person? Well, if you mean in the sense of a jolly fat guy who lives at the North Pole, and flies around in a sleigh, somehow being able to act outside the realms of space and time….No, he isn’t. If you mean “Can I find someone who looks like him?” then..yeah, every mall in the country is where you can find him. However, that is just the most shallow level of “real.” No, to determine if Santa Claus is real, you have to look past that.
Santa Claus, you see, is not really a person. Or, should I say, not any single person. The stories we Americans have grown up with have Santa as kind old man, who cares about children, creating a mythology around him. Santa Claus, like any such figure, represents something greater. He gives gifts to children, but yet, from those great cartoons we all grew up on, he also is a gentle patriarch of his community at the North Pole, someone who sees the season, not as rampant commercialism, but, instead, focus on hand made toys made with love by his workshop elves. In essence, what Santa truly represents is giving from the heart.
This is a time of year where everyone is concerned about getting the latest expensive tech gadget for someone, or getting the most extravagant gifts. Where everyone focuses on trying to look good, and give and get the best. However, a simple toymaker, raised by a fairy and lioness, granted immortality by the Council of Immortals in the Forest of Berzeez(I said that was my favourite version, didn’t I?), personifies the simple act lost in the hectic world we now live in. The act of trying to find the gift that will make someone happy.
Ultimately, the question of “Is Santa real?” is actually simple to answer. Look at the gifts you gave this season, and ask yourself this question: “Did I choose the gifts because they were the perfect gift, the gifts most likely to make that person happy?” If you answer “Yes,” then Santa Clause is real. If you answer “No,” then…you have my sympathy.
Merry Christmas, everyone, and have a Happy New Year.