Saturday, December 25, 2010

I Believe in Christmas

christmas_magicDo you believe in Santa Claus? Do you believe in the story of the first Noël?
Watching Christmas movies is one of my most anticipated Christmas traditions. Because I'm such a sentimental marshmallow, the syrupy stories of lost then found hope resonate with me. 

At the core of these movie plots is the question of believing in Santa Claus; which really translates into believing in the spirit of Christmas.  Santa, like all myths, is a metaphor for those qualities that both warm our hearts and keeps humanity from annihilating itself; generosity, tolerance and hope.

As stressful as things get, I refuse to abandon my neurotic desire to relive the wonder and awe of my childhood.  Christmas gives all of us the licence to that.  And why wouldn't we? 
Sure, Christmas is a mythological construction. But saying something is a myth isn't the same as saying that it's a lie. 

Our world is held together by the power of myths.  These stories explain how we exist, where we come from, who we are.  They precede art, religion and politics. They infuse our lives with meaning.  Is there anything more human than to ask "Why was I born?"

Just because we can scientifically prove that Santa doesn't inhabit a candy cane-stripped cottage at the North Pole doesn't mean that his story of generosity and magic doesn't glow in the hearts of millions of young and old alike. Is it even relevant that he be flesh and blood?

Mythology serves many purposes: 
  1. Myths grant continuity and stability to a culture.
  2. Myths present guidelines for living. 
  3. Myths justify a culture's activities.
  4. Myths give meaning to life.
  5. Myths explain the unexplainable.
  6. Myths offer role models.
Below is my favourite Christmas text which wasn't written as a piece of holiday prose but as a reply to a little girl's letter to the editor about the existence of Santa Claus. Are there such journalists as Francis Pharcellus Church today? (for the whole letter: Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus)
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.
Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished."
Today, my social network is unplugged as I spend time with my family and think of all the things in life that I should be thankful for:
For my children who give my life so much meaning.
For my extended family, many whom I haven't seen in years and many whom I have had the pleasure to reconnect with these past months.
For my very close friends who have seen me at my worst and still love me unconditionally.
And for Georges, who keeps his emotions locked deep within a heart that when called upon, grows three sizes too big.
I love you all and wish you a very happy Christmas and a New Year filled with peace, love, health and…magic.

Yes Virginia! There is a Santa Claus
Greg Lake: I Believe in Father Christmas

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