My View on Santa Claus

Picture used freely, courtesy of marczini on stock.xchng
Picture used freely, courtesy of marczini on stock.xchng

Yesterday, a friend asked me what I think about Santa Claus. I have a three-year-old son, so this question is on my mind as we approach the holiday season.

I like the story of Saint Nicholas of Myra. He was legendary in his concern for the poor, bringing them gifts to lift their burdens. Legend says that he even paid the dowries of some poor young women so they could afford marriage and not fall into prostitution. This is amazing, and this is the kind of lesson I want my son to learn.

Unfortunately, the Santa Claus of today bears little resemblance to the saint of old. Our Santa Claus has become the happy, bearded patron saint of commercialism and corporatism. His tightly-run, efficient North Pole toy factory is a marvel of modern industrialism. His elves are willing workers who, much to the jealousy of managerial staff everywhere, never seem to gripe about hours or higher pay. To his credit, Santa Claus does provide his elves with all guaranteed basic necessities: food, shelter, health care, all in the comfort of his magical snowy village. This is far more generous than corporate America.

But his promotion of greed, and the idea of getting the latest and greatest gifts from Santa Claus, is the primary reason I choose not to promote this myth with my child. My husband tells stories of childhood Christmases in which Santa did not bring very many or any toys to his poverty-stricken family, while Santa reigned lavish gifts on his richer friends, who promptly flaunted their new treasures at school as soon as Christmas break was over. This is tragic and not a lesson I want my son to learn.

Unfortunately, I know I will have many teaching moments like this in the future, whether I teach him about Santa Claus or not, because I am raising him in a culture that is driven by ego and greed. I am already struggling with the best way to show him how to deny his ego and learn to care for the needs of all those around him. I want him to understand our human connectedness and the importance of his soul journey, both paths that are treacherous when mixed with greed, holidays or otherwise.

Another problem I have with Santa Claus is his stereotypical perpetuation of a cultural superiority. 99.9% of the time, Santa Claus is portrayed as a white man who visits children who live in nice, big suburban (or, maybe, country) homes by sliding down their chimneys. Now, I realize that this image has come down through the centuries from a European background and a time when most people probably did have chimneys, or at least fireplaces, but this image today is that of a middle-class or wealthy white family. That is not the face of my family; that is not even the face of America. What message am I really sending my mixed-race child by telling him that a White Man is responsible for Christmas presents and holds a list of all the naughty and nice things my son has done?

Considering the point of naughty and nice, this is another conflict I have with Santa Claus. No child, and no adult for that matter, is purely naughty or nice. The world exists in shades of gray. Even if Santa Claus puts all the naughty and nice acts on a scale to find out who is worthy of the gifts, who gave Santa the authority to determine the meaning of naughty and nice in the first place? If little Jimmy grabs a toy from the shelf while he sits in the cart at the store because the toy appealed to him, does that go on the naughty list, or is it simple immaturity? What about if little Jaleisha grabs a cookie from the deli and runs out of the store with it because her stomach was growling and her parent’s food stamps had run out for the month? In America, I know which child would get the most blame. Does Santa Claus think the same way? I want my son to learn how to grapple with situational morality, not lists of black and white crimes. Santa Claus does not fit very nicely with this life lesson. To that note, there is a children’s movie, Fred Claus, that I enjoy immensely that confronts these very questions.

Another children’s Christmas movie that I like with Santa Claus is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I’ve watched that movie with my son before. We talked about how Rudolph was special, and a very important reindeer, even though the other reindeer made fun of him because he looked different. I also talked with my son about the Isle of Misfit Toys and how there are no misfits on earth. Everyone is special and made to be loved by someone. We all must learn to love and accept each other. Rudolph is a great lesson in this.

Now, some people believe that it is wrong to lie to children about Santa Claus, to lead them to believe in supernatural myths. I actually don’t mind that part. I want my son to believe in the imaginary, see all the possibilities of the supernatural realm. I encourage him to make up stories, have imaginary friends, and believe in unicorns, dragons, fairies. How can we know whether these realms exist or not? I believe they do.

So my take on Santa Claus is that he is a cultural icon that surrounds us this time of year and my son will learn about him whether I want him to or not. I just use these moments and his questions as a springboard to teach him about the greater truths of loving and caring for each other during the holidays and all the time.

Who Am I?

Who Am I?

Who am I?

I am a lover
and a dreamer.
I am a writer and poet,
a musician,
a seer of the unseen,
a knower of the unknown.

I am free,
but I feel the bondage of
the unlearned souls
who try to shackle me
and make me follow their way.

I want to fly free as a bird,
but I am a worrier and a carer.
I feel the pain of others,
their griefs, their sorrows
and their stories
ground me to solid earth.

I am a learner,
learning to overcome fear,
fear of not having enough,
fear of no place to rest my head,
fear of no voice for my swirling thoughts.

But in the calm untouched sea
of my deepest being,
I do know.
I understand that the Creator will provide,
like a father giving good gifts,
and a mother nurturing her little ones,
not even a little bird wants
under the Creator’s watchful eye.

There are those
who live in greater fear than I.
They inhabit the passions of gluttony,
greed,
and the darkness of
Power.

They do not know who they are.
They have blinded themselves.
The do not understand
that in harming another
they perform the greatest violation
against themselves.

Photo used courtesy of milan6 on stock.xchng

Gaining New Sight

 

Photo used freely, courtesy of Brybs on stock.xchng
Photo used freely, courtesy of Brybs on stock.xchng

I have often said that I am a healer in need of healing. All of the best spiritual healers in the world have suffered many ailments. It takes deep empathy to learn the art of healing. I often pray to walk a mile in another person’s shoes so I can change my world.

Right now I am in great need of healing. I have developed a cataract in one eye that is progressing very rapidly. The diagnosis shocked me, because I am only 32 years old. As much as I know about medicine, I always thought of cataracts as only a disease of advanced age.

I have been near-sighted most of my life, so, ironically, my problem started when my eye suddenly got much better and my glasses were uncomfortable. I went to the optometrist, and she had to change my glass prescription three times in a month, ultimately cutting my prescription in half.

Unfortunately, with each prescription change, I noticed a cloud starting to descend on my vision, like looking at the world through the spreading fog of a bathroom mirror after a hot shower. I also started to lose my near vision, even as my far vision got better. This hurts me because I love to read and write, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so. Working on my websites has also become a challenge.

I have an appointment with another opthalmologist, but they have already said that surgery may be my only option. I do not want to follow that path right now. I had a horrible experience with ankle surgery, and I am not eager to have surgery again. I know that Western medicine has its place, but I want to pursue holistic healing first.

I am practicing Reiki and meditation with my vision. Maybe this is a life lesson for me on my spiritual path. Perhaps my spiritual vision is affecting my physical vision; a temporary foggy patch as I ascend the clouds to another level of the mountain. I also think I need to learn to rest my eyes more, just rest in general. I have a high-stress day job, and maybe resting my eyes is a way to help me learn to calm down more and let all my worries fly away.

I am also learning to empathize with those who struggle to see in any way. I have thought often lately of the story in the Bible about the blind man whom Jesus healed (Mark 8). When Jesus first put his hands on the man’s eyes, the man said he saw “people looking like trees walking around.” Jesus then put his hands on the man a second time and he was healed completely.

I always thought this story was a bit odd. Why did he see people like trees? Now I can empathize, because the blurriness and fogginess that I am experiencing looks somewhat like that description.

This story also reminds me that healing takes time. The miracle may not happen completely or at all on the first attempt, even for the greatest Healer of all time. Maybe the man was not quite ready to see. Maybe he still had fears. After all, if he had been blind for most or all of his life, learning to see, although a great gift, would completely change his identity.

This principle is also true of the first week, or the first year, or the first decade of the healing process. Healing is a soul journey as much as a physical one. I want to participate fully in this journey. I believe that I will come out the other side with my vision restored, and even better than it was before.

I bless you on the healing journey, friends, and I would appreciate if you could send a little Reiki and healing energy my way as well.

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