I’ve always loved Christmas.
And I’ve always believed in Santa Claus.
I believed in Santa unquestioningly until the 4th grade when one of my friends told me he didn’t exist.
This friend made perfect sense, describing the parents loading the stockings after the kids had gone to bed and so on, but I went on believing in Santa anyway.
Even as a youngster, I sensed that Christmas was the only time of year when people invited enchantment to touch their hearts. And Santa Claus was part of that.
At Christmastime, my belief in magic and enchantment was (and is) de riguour.
With folks gathering in candlelight and singing about silence and stillness, about “heaven & nature singing”, I was right at home .
Paths lined with luminaries, houses strewn with greenery and twinkling lights was the norm, and no one rolled their eyes about making offerings of cookies and milk to a giant elf (and apples and carrots to his flying reindeer).
So, I’ve always loved it. Even as an angsty teenager, even as a dismissive politically correct vegan, even as a middle-aged woman.
These days, I see the sweetness in every season, I hear heaven and nature singing every day. But it’s not easy. It doesn’t just happen. It’s my practice, my discipline to allow enchantment to touch my heart whenever possible.
I wish I knew who responded to our dear Virgina, over 100 years ago. Surely we’d be friends. Though they are anonymous, I count myself as part of their lineage, a line of humanity devoted to preserving wonder, delight, and magic.
Here’s my favorite bit from this famous unsigned editorial printed in the New York Sun in 1897, entitled Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus :
“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.”
So who’s with me? Who cries at the end of Elf and The Grinch that Stole Christmas? Who plays the Charlie Brown Christmas album at least once a day all winter? Who falls asleep on Christmas Eve with a flutter in your heart and an ear cocked for sleigh bells?
Who loves that there is a veil that only faith, fancy, poetry, love and romance can push aside?
If you do, it’s a sign of your magic, of your respect for the “beauty and glory” beyond the veils, and of your long-lived glad heart.
It means that, for us, this magic doesn’t stop once Santa has made his rounds and the Christmas trees line the curb.
We feel it watching a quiet flock of turkeys walk single file across a frozen, sparkling field in February. We feel it in March when the ephemerals push through the ground, followed by fat daffodils. We’ll feel it on summer nights when fire flies float like fairies to a chorus of crickets, and again when the leaves turn crimson and float through the air like shining ghosts.
All of that is Santa Claus too, just at a different time of year. And Santa Claus is all that; the turkeys and daffodils and fireflies.
So long live Santa Claus.
And long live your wonder-filled heart.
love & reunions!