Written on December 12th, 2016
I’m a 19-year-old college student who likes to think she’s pretty reasonably-minded – and I wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus. You heard that right; in fact, Jolly Old Saint Nick has an extremely special place in my heart. I believe in him now just as much as I did when I was five, and I’m not afraid to tell the whole world.
My earliest memory is of the infant hours of one Christmas morning when I was a little kid. I had quietly slipped out of my bedroom at the end of the hall to venture into our living room, my tiny hands shivering with anticipation for what might await me under the tree. The whimsical lights on our Frasier fir cast the most beautiful shadows around the walls, and everything was bathed in this soft reddish glow. When my eyes found the abundance of presents covering the floor, they opened even wider – it was like being in the presence of actual magic.
I’ll never forget the power of that moment: all at once I felt so blessed, so overcome with excitement, so incredibly alive. I may have only been a little kid, but I knew right then that there was something special about Christmas.
Every year as I grew older I would eagerly await the holiday season and all of the baking, crafting, and singing it would bring. There always seemed to be magic falling in the snowflakes, glittering in the strings of lights, whispering through the voices of nearly 1,000 people singing “Silent Night” at our evening church service. It was never just about the presents to me; it was about the presence of something so much greater than the sum of its parts. Each December, I felt magic fill my heart.
And each December, I embraced it even more than the one before.
I was pretty old when I came to the realization that there isn’t actually a fat bearded man in a red suit living at the North Pole, probably in about the seventh grade. I was blessed to have an amazingly full childhood fostered by two great parents who kept the mystery alive for me (to this day our cookies somehow still get eaten and we still leave out carrots for those lovely reindeer). But even when I stopped believing in Santa as a physical entity, I never ceased to believe in his spirit.
I had sensed something back all those years ago when I was barely old enough to speak, something real, something worthwhile. I had experienced magic… and I wasn’t about to give up on it.
In the years since, my love for the Christmas season has only grown. I don embellished holiday sweaters nearly every day in the month of December, I sleep in footie pajamas, I wear flashing strands of lights as a necklace. I consume my weight in cookies and crescent rolls. I make and wrap presents like a fiend (although I can still never seem to get the corners matched up quite right). I do so many classic Christmas things. But although I love all of these fun traditions, there’s still something I love even more: the spirit of Santa.
You got me – I don’t believe an actual guy enters houses on Christmas Eve to drink milk and leave presents. But I vehemently believe that Santa Claus is alive and well in the hearts of countless children and even adults in the holiday season. I believe he teaches us the joy of giving, the importance of kindness, the realization that we are all worthy of gifts transcending material objects. Santa is compassion, and love, and second chances. Santa is excitement. Santa is joy. Santa is real.
Most importantly, I think Santa teaches us the value of believing in something even when we can’t quite see it or objectively confirm its existence. The story of The Polar Express has become precious to me over the years for this very reason; when I was small, inspired by the storyline, I asked Santa for a bell from his sleigh. My parents delivered with a delightfully rustic gold beauty, and to this day it sits on my nightstand as a reminder that sometimes we have to just believe. Faith breeds magic and a million other wonderful things. We just have to be brave enough to embrace it.
I lay my case for Santa to rest with one final thought. We place the same small statue on my living room coffee table every holiday season; it shows a manger with a small baby boy inside, and kneeling on the ground next to him is none other than Saint Nick himself with his hat off and hands cupped, praying over Jesus as he sleeps. I have seen this figurine year after year, but it never fails to give me goosebumps. I believe it truly encompasses the meaning of the holiday season. Christmas is about faith, and family, and love. Santa is about these things too. And I think that through the spirit of Santa, we are able to see the spirit of Jesus.
Sure, it gets flashy and commercial sometimes… but I think Santa, at his core, is an extremely valuable thing to believe in.
And I don’t ever plan on stopping.