I must confess that there have been times in my life when I had my doubts about Santa Claus. Not any more though. I turned fifty this year and I have finally got it all sorted out in my head again.
I no longer have any doubt. Santa Claus exists.
Of course, if you’re below a certain age, and you happen to be reading this, you will just say, “Duh, of course Santa exists, what’s this dude on about?”
Quite right too. It’s just that, as the years go on from childhood, through teens and into early adulthood, some doubts can come creeping in. Those ageing, increasingly hairy, folk get a little bound up in the irrelevant technicalities associated with the great one. Things such as; how does he carry all those presents? How does he cover the whole world in one night? How does he actually get down the chimney? These rather trivial matters become magnified as the teen years go by until, in early adulthood, they start to foster a bit of cynicism and then sometimes, rather amazingly, a sense of disbelief.
But the kids know. The kids always have it sussed and now, at fifty, I’m pleased to say that I do too. I've been away from the fold for a while but I’m back now and this time I think I’m going to stay.
Santa exists. He really does.
I’ll go further, if you’ll let me. I’ll go so far as to say that Santa Claus represents possibly the last piece of actual full-blown magic left in this world of ours.
In older times, there was lots and lots of magic around but not any more. Magic, you see, is a rather curious thing. It doesn't just exist of itself, like, say, a Cloud or a Bus or even a Meerkat does. Not at all. Magic has to be ‘Evoked’. That’s why there was so much of it around in older times. People had more time on their hands and more energy for evoking things. In fact, I reckon those olden-days-people would have been getting together around their sparking fires and evoking magical things practically all of the time. Much of what they would have been evoking could perhaps have been defined as ‘Spirits’. There were lots of Spirits and lots of magical-evoking back then, not so much of it now.
That’s effectively what Santa Claus is, you see. He’s the direct descendant of one of those old fashioned spirits our forefathers used to evoke on those darkest of Winter nights.
This is actually one of the reasons that we tend to fall out of belief for a while as we get some metaphorical hair on our chins. It’s because spirits are notoriously hard to pin down and not at all easy to define. The very word – ‘Spirit’ – kind of gives it away. It suggests an amorphous thing, something not easily seen or grabbed or held on to. No less real for all that. Just a bit harder to believe in.
We've done what we always do, whenever we modern people try to nail a spirit down. We've given it a long white beard and a subtle benevolence and an implied wealth of wisdom and power. Yes, we've done the ‘God’ thing on it.
So the kids have it completely right, as usual. On Christmas Eve Night, on this very Christmas Eve Night, Santa will come. He will come because we, all of us who choose to partake, will evoke him, just like our distant ancestors evoked him under different names. We will evoke him as we deliberately shut out the everyday world, dim our lights, light our candles, drink a little more that we usually would on a Thursday night, leave out some rudimentary food, tuck our expectant children up in their beds and remind them quietly of the old ways and the magic about to unfold.
If just one of us did this, it wouldn't work. Neither with two nor three. But millions together will evoke the Spirit of Christmas, past and present, on Christmas Eve. And the Spirit will come.
Not everybody has to play, not everybody has to believe, it’s fine, there’ll be enough people on the night who will. There’ll be enough to make the magic happen all over again.
Of course we all know that Santa comes for the children, not for us fifty year old types. We know all that. But the Spirit of Christmas has many names. You don’t have to be surrounded by friends or in the bosom of your family. You don’t have to even be happy or contented. You don’t have to be healthy or without pain. Your Spirit may not be a jolly man with a beard, it may not be a new born child. It’s your Spirit, after all, it can be whatever you want.
If you wish, you too can evoke the Spirit of Christmas. Treat yourself in some small way, see that you are warm and sheltered. Step out of the year for one last time before it goes away. But don’t expect it to come if you don’t work at it a little. A Spirit is not something that just comes for you, you have to evoke it.
This post will probably sound naive at best, heretic at worst, but it’s just my own attempt to pin down something that is rather flimsy and ever so slightly whimsical. Something that I have nonetheless come to believe. Namely, that there is still a little magic abroad in this world and that, on Christmas Eve, with so many of our souls pointed in the same direction, we can actually make a little of it happen.
Right there, among all the gaudy tinsel, the commercialism, the pressure, the loneliness, the heartache, the pain, if we believe hard enough...
… Santa will come.