In 1897, Francis P. Church answered one of the lifelong questions of children around the world as he said, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
Today, as we grow older than our 8 year old selves (who asked our parents that same exact question years ago) we believe less and less in the spirit of Santa Claus and more in the commercialization of the season. In many cases, even Santa Claus himself and all of his helpers are being caught up in it, as some places charge upwards of $25 just to get the one-on-one picture that so many children need to say, “I really want a bike for Christmas.” While we shuffle around the mall trying to find gifts that are suitable for people whom we are buying, forgetting that sometimes the $15 vintage gift is going to mean a lot more in 10 years than the sweater we found on sale at a number of retail stores.
As we’ve seen in the media over the last couple of weeks (and if we looked hard enough we could probably find similar articles from the last several decades), Santa Claus and his appearance have been a debated topic. Not just whether he exists, but what he looks like. If you close your eyes an image will probably appear pretty fast, so that’s exactly what Santa Claus looks like. We live in a world where appearances matter far too much and the deed he does is mattering less and less. Though we’ve all heard of “The List”, the movie Fred Claus says it best: “There are no naughty kids, Nick. They’re all good kids. But some of them are scared. And some of them don’t feel listened to. Some of them had some pretty tough breaks too. But every kid deserves a present on Christmas.”
Believing doesn’t need to stop at children, though. Everyone needs a little bit of Santa Claus, especially this time of year. When you think of Santa Claus, what comes to mind? A red suit, white beard, jolly, a belly from millions of cookies, Rudolph, chimneys, a sleigh, probably all of these things come to mind as they are associated with him. How about the fact that he never asks for anything in return except for people to be good to other people? The truth is, we all need Santa Claus. No matter how old we get, we all, out of the corner of our eyes, notice him at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We all notice when he’s coming to the local malls, and on Christmas Eve we all talk to the children about what they asked Santa for. We all need to know Santa exists just as much as he did for that 8 year old Virginia, over 100 years ago.
As Christmas Day is just around the corner, believe a little more. No matter if you’re a Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas kind of person, believe in the idea that someone is out there trying to make billions of dreams come true on Christmas morning. Believe in the unbelievable, believe in things you can’t see because sometimes things just are the way they are. Believe in those people around the world who probably need a little extra hand. Many of us have probably thought numerous times over the last year, that when we were kids things were just easier. Don’t lose your grip on that thought and say, “Hey, it could happen.” Over this season, when you hear a child laugh or a dog bark or something just works out even though you never thought it would – who knows? Maybe Santa Claus is there helping us believe that anything is possible. Spend a little more time with the people you love, act a little more for those you don’t know, and give a couple more second chances this year; you know it’s what Santa Claus would do.
This year, 117 years after the question was answered by Mr. Church to the 8 year old Virginia who was struggling with her own belief, maybe it’s time we all reread and believe his response.