Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Elves . . . The Elves

I believe in Santa Claus. Even if he's a grumpy guy like the Santa in A Christmas Story. Because to me, Santa is a lot more real than a lot of the real folks reality wants to foist upon me. I even like the grumpy elf, because he's more real.

But it's not just the grumpiness. It's the humanity. Santa Claus shows a lot more humanity than any politician, any pundit, and jabber-grabber on the television can ever show. And yeah, sometimes Santa lets us down. He tells us we're going to shoot our eye out. And he's probably right. Does it matter that he's right? Yes, it does. In that grumpy kind a way, it really does matter that he's right. He's right not because he's self-righteous about it, not right because he's angry that we believe contrariwise to how he perceives the world, or right because miffed that we're not listening to reason. He's right because he's right. Santa Claus, being a fictional character that has crossed into reality, knows truth from falsehood, and even truth from truthiness.

So I believe.

Because underneath all that grumpiness, there's justice. Good kids get what they ask for. Bad kids get punished with coal, or with kindling, or with rotten potatoes (I'm an Idahoan; the latter has happened.) But even with the bad kids, there's leniency. There's hope. Only with Santa Claus can we believe in deathbed repentance.

Aside from all that, a belief in Santa Claus lets us believe, by proxy, in the good that remains in humanity. There are people who do kindness every day of the year, though it may only be remarked as the calendar approaches the 25th of December. People do good things all year round. They love each other. They do service. They laugh and cry with other people. They work for others. They sit and chat with others. They give, and give, and give. But the cynics look at their all-round cheerfulness in context of Christmas and Santa Claus and say, well, they're doing it because of some outmoded judeo-Christian belief system that they've transplanted upon a former pagan tree-worshipping ritual. But the cynics are wrong. Christmas is beautiful. And believing in Santa Claus is the right thing to do.

My kids will hear Santa's sleigh bells this year. And so will their Dad, for a long time to come.

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