In a conversation with a friend, where we were speaking about gift ideas for our families, I asked her, “How do wrap, or present, the Santa Claus gifts to your young children?” She gave me a face and said, “Huh? What you mean by presenting a Santa Claus gift?” I stated, “Well, I wrap most of the gifts in generic holiday paper, but I wrap the Santa presents in bright distinct paper. This shows the appearance and importance of the gift. They may see other gifts under the tree, but it is not until the morning of Christmas do they see the Santa present. I try to show them that Santa presents are different, and are usually something that is more thoughtful and heart-felt.” She looked at me bewildered, chuckled and said, “I don’t believe in Santa. And I just give my kids gifts. You know, I give them what they ask for… they look under the tree and there the presents are. There is no need to pretend that there is a Santa Claus.” I, gently arranged my posture to lean in and said, “Hmmm. Think of Santa Claus, not as a person, but as a symbol. In today’s world, we are living in a time where there is just too much stuff going on. Too much ugliness. Too much hate. Too much REAL violence and selfishness. Our humanity is deteriorating. Our children’s innocence is being robbed. Would it not be wonderful to show them that, although they need to be aware of the harshness of these times, they can still believe in something grand and magical? They can close their eyes and wish. They can create a joyous fantasy that turns into realty once they unwrap a magnificently wrapped present. This is almost like “willing” a success future, willing joy and a positive outcome, envisioning and creating a reality that is possible to achieve when practicing positive behavior. Behavior like respect, adherence to the rules of being a good boy/girl, being good to others…etc. Would it not be fun to witness the build-up of anticipation, and to watch the shear release of joy when their desires are fulfilled as they unwrap the Santa present? Or most importantly, would it not be awesome, to encourage giving of yourself to others and showing the importance of serving others? What can be more joyous than that? The giving to others and/or, to those who may be less fortunate than you. All this can be taught through the symbol of Santa Claus.
See, Santa Claus needs to be real. I know, I know. How can I still believe in Santa Claus? Well, given the recent assassination of the Russian Ambassador, the Berlin truck incident claiming 12 lives, plus our (America’s) usual domestic sociopolitical ugliness, I just need to. Maybe it is also the occupational hazard of being a professional mediator/arbitrator, where I believe in transforming conflict into solutions, creating resolve and peace, where no one else believes resolve/peace is possible. AND maybe it is my belief in serving others. I believe in helping others, having empathy for others, creating opportunities of success for others, being that pillar of strength, standing for others, fighting for others, crying and sharing with others. Giving from the heart to others. And that is what the symbol of Santa Claus is supposed to be about; giving of yourself with no expectation of receiving. Even though the commercialization of Christmas disappoints me. And the lack of religious focus and care for the season is lessened at times… I look passed that and focus on the wonder, anticipation and the joy of giving. So, I choose to believe in the symbol of giving, generosity, selflessness, heart-felt gifts, and serving others… I choose to believe in Santa Claus. And most importantly, for me, this is the season of the birth of LOVE, Jesus.”
Her face seemed a bit, saddened, she then replied, “Wow. Thank you for that. When I was still married to my children’s father the holiday season brought us more stress than joy. So I guess I never focused on what it could be or should be…”.
As a mediator is seems that if we are to encourage resolution and peace-bridge building, believing in a symbol like Santa Claus and what this winter season is supposed to be in paramount. So, I believe in Santa, because I believe we need more selflessness, love, and service to others.