The Night before Christmas —


The Night before Christmas —

Twas the night before christmas and all through the house, not a creature,,,

When children reach the age of reason (usually about two or three years old), they believe in Santa Claus. Its a wondrous time when magic and fable intermingle and all is right with the world. Gifts come from a jolly man in a red suit and he somehow, we don’t ask this question too fervently, makes it to all the houses of the little children, around the world, and he does it in one night. That’s the "wonder and magic" part. There are reindeer, Mrs. Claus, all the elves, and of course cookies and milk waiting for him. We climb up on his knee in the shopping center and whisper our wants in his ear. And, wonders of wonders, at least some of that list appear under the tree on Christmas Morning.

Then, when the kids are about to enter puberty, they are "grown up" and realize that there is no Santa. Its a sad time for them, but part of the right of passage.  They learn just who provides the gifts, and how important it is to keep this information from the little ones. Let them find out at their own speed. Christmas takes on a different meaning to these young people and can become at once jaded and crass. The magic and wonder simply leave these teenage pragmatists. Their education and life’s experiences have turned them in to cynics. These teenage years are tough times for our kids. They have moved from the wonder and belief of childhood to the questioning and cynicism of their teen age years.  There’s no talking to them. They just have to survive it.

The real transformation takes place when we have a small child in our lives, either as a parent, relative, or friend. We weather the malls, find the perfect gift, wrap it, and put it under the tree, often noting on the card that it is for Ashley, from Santa. Its then that we are hit with the realization, there is a Santa Claus, and he is us.

We, without the red suit, long beard, and ho, ho, ho, are Santa Claus.Our goal is to be certain that there is no disappointment in the eyes of the young on Christmas Morning. IF we come to affluence, the pile around the tree is great. If we come from lesser means, we consider for months the ‘perfect’ gift that will ensure that the young believer holds to his or her Santa Legend just one more year.

First we believe, then we don’t, then we discover that we are. Seems like a nice process. And it works for many things. We live for a while in denial, then see the problem, wrestle with it, and then discover, to our amazement, that we are the problem. The Santa story is an allegory for life itself. And the fact that its the happiest time of year and also the most stressful, makes it all the more real.

The young don’t need "facts" to believe, they just do. And their lives are uncomplicated and filled with fun and joy. The teens must have "proof" and question everything. That’s good, for without questions, we would have no growth. But adults, with the wisdom of time and experience, know that belief of the young and the questioning of the teen is the tap root of life and as the "real" Santa, its up to us to keep both the children’s beliefs and the questions of the teens up and in full tilt. Our maturity came from both and without either, we will be lost.

But can’t you take it one step further. Isn’t everything about Christmas belief. Aren’t the things we worship magical. Isn’t the entire story of the birth and life of the person who changed the world two thousand years ago really a story of a child who believed, a teen who questioned, and then an adult who knew the truth.

Christ’s story may seem implausible to some and miraculous to others but it has persevered over the  centuries. A story that lasts that long, and has such a message of hope and sacrifice, must have something going for it. The gift giving, Santa, shopping, the madhouse at the mall, they all focus right on the message of the holiday. We are being taught to be tolerant, giving, thankful, and  a bit spiritual, we are being taught to believe  in  magic.

So, Santa – as you make that last present run to the mall, or wrap that
last package, or drink the milk and eat the cookie lovingly put out on
Christmas Eve by a "good little girl or boy." you are in one of those
places where you cannot fail. Your children will love whatever Santa
brings, assuming you have done your job correctly the rest of the year.

Remember, Santa checks lists, knows whose naughty or nice, and has a
bit of magic to ensure all is right in the world, at least from that
"belief" point of view.

This season is filled with Santas, wonder, and excitement. But its message is clear.

And we heard him exclaim as he flew out of fight, Merry Christmas to all,,,,and to all a good night.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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