Believing Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Phil SantaIt is that time of year again.  You walk to the malls and see a myriad of people jostling amongst themselves looking for the next big thing to get for Christmas.  It is a wonderful time of the year when Santa Claus comes to town.  The rest of the year we are constantly reminded that there is no Santa Claus.

Of course I still believe, or at least I like to say that.  I remember very clearly when I was confronted about the lack of evidence regarding Santa way back when I was a kid.  I was walking into hockey practice at the Dresden arena when one of my friends turned around to me as I entered the dressing room asks,” you don’t believe in Santa Claus, do you?”

I remember thinking; of course I do even though the tone of his question filled my mind with doubt.  In fact it was one of those situations where it was obvious he had coerced the rest of the dressing room into believing there was no Santa Claus.  All of their body language said that.  So as I took my seat somewhere in the dressing room I was crushed.  No, Santa Claus must not be able to get to every house around the world in one night.  It didn’t make sense.  All you needed to do was think about it a little bit.

It became even more apparent to me later on that season.  Even though that hockey practice had crushed my Santa Claus dreams, there was still hope.  I didn’t have to mention my disappointment at home because that is where all of my Christmas dreams were going to come true.  I was always in the habit of coercing my mother into making banana cream pie for Santa Claus because my father told me Santa Claus liked that.  So on that particular Christmas when my mother forgot to make it, I sat down and made several peanut butter sandwiches for Santa Claus.  Needless to say, the next day I was disappointed the peanut butter sandwiches hadn’t been touched.  Gasp!  What was the world coming to?

It must seem simply bizarre to other people who come to Canada and hear the story about Santa Claus.  Surely some of these people must shake their head when in the middle of the summer someone might say, if you believe in that you must also believe in Santa Claus?  However, in rural Ontario in the 1960s, Santa Claus was part of the discourse.  Even today after all these years he lives in children’s hearts.  I’m glad for that.  It’s a wonderful life when you believe.

It happens all over southern Ontario.  For instance I remember a friend of mine who played Santa Claus for his very young daughter.  He went to the extreme by getting up on the roof and banging on the roof to mimic the sound of the reindeer.  He even made a mess in the front yard to mimic the hustle and bustle of Santa and the reindeer is delivering the presents during the night.  However, on one Christmas morning his daughter had an inquisitive look on her face not believing.  So ended the tale of Santa Claus in her.  In that case I don’t know who was more disappointed.

Of course over the years Christmas changed for me.  I have spent quite a bit of time in Bangladesh where most everyone is either in or one abject step away from extreme poverty.  It is a society where people have everyday triumphs just to stay alive.  So having seen that firsthand and weighing that against the gross consumption of our Western world I have always thought about those people I left behind.  They have nothing while all around me there is everything.

I still find that very difficult to come to grips with.  Stuff is not our salvation in Western society, but you would be correct if you thought it was.   Each year we get to the last calendar month and we have this mass movement to consume and sell.  If we could take a fraction of that and feed the world’s people it would be a beautiful thing.

There are many of you who try.  For instance some of you provide funding here in Canada at Christmas time for those who are less fortunate.  Some of you provide resources to support kids overseas.  At Christmas time these needs are amplified.

As for me I’m just trying to re-create the magic.  Despite some of the things that are going on around us it would be a wonderful thing if I could re-create the magic, which was Santa Claus.  If I could go back to that hockey arena and tell those kids that I believed in Santa Claus and they should too, I would.  Life is too short sometimes.  A little bit of Santa Claus can go a long way.

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