I can’t wait until my daughter turns to me and finally says, “It’s OK, Dad. I know there’s no Santa Claus.”
It will mean that her next step will be to actually understand the true spirit of giving – not receiving, not exchanging, just giving.
I think that what we go through as children on the journey from the pre-conventional floor to upright modern thinking readies us for the next phase of our conventional wisdom – religion. Simply put, just because we outgrow Santa Claus does not mean we outgrow the giving of gifts. There is a spirit that takes hold of us all during the holiday season (in majority, due to the media and despite the commercialism and advertising), regardless of what we call it, that allows us to experience an opening of our hearts and a giving of our spirit to others. We volunteer our time. We reach out and help those less fortunate. We spend what little money we have on gifts for our friends and family, and they in turn do the same. There is a great spreading of wealth and blurring of social status. Two days out of the year.
In the celebrations of Christmas, Hannukah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa and even the reverie of St. Nicholas, these base impulses are the same, they are communal and spiritual experiences – a deep universal love and an urge to give to our fellow men and women.
Not surprising that we anthropomorphize this belief into the form of a bearded mythical figure “to the north.” Why, though, once we reveal Santa as a fabrication, do we not remove all anthropomorphic figures from our worldview? Many archetypes, ghosts, human images of God, Allah, Yahweh can be ways of clinging to “childish things” and remaining stuck in the conventional stage of development. For just as the existence of Santa or Jesus does not predicate the spirit of gift-giving, self-sacrifice or an open heart, the presence of universal divine/quantum energy (light and dark matter) that sustains all existence does not rely on the existence of any one God (least of all their ability to be given names in languages that have been spoken for the blink of an eye or depicted in oil-based renderings).
My prayer for 2009 is that we move closer toward a more integral/pragmatic world that is increasingly inclusive and tolerant of all its people, that helps them improve their lives and the lives of others and that celebrates the spirit of giving every day of the year, every moment we’re alive.
And this will continue to be my prayer until we can move beyond modes of worship like prayer into modes of pure intention.