Set aside how the traditions surrounding Santa Claus began. Set aside the commonly heard refrain that Christmas has become too commercial. Set aside whether you ever once believed in Santa Claus or not.
And ask yourself–what if Santa were real? What would be different if we lived in a world where, once every year, a jolly fat man in red slid down our chimneys to leave us either gifts or coal based on our actions of the past year?
There’d be a run on cookies and milk on Christmas Eve, since we wouldn’t want Santa to drop from hunger or low blood sugar halfway through his round-the-world trip.
We’d all build double-wide chimneys into our homes. Let’s face it, I don’t care how much magic he has, Santa isn’t fitting down a chimney pipe the size of my thigh. We’d also have to reinforce our roofs because mine isn’t going to support the weight of eight to nine reindeer (depending on whether Rudolph is flying that night), a sleigh, presents, and a fat man.
We’d stop singing “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” I’d rather not spread rumors about Santa’s fidelity and risk making Mrs. Claus jealous.
The world would have a little more laughter. Something about Santa’s laugh is infectious in the same way a happy child’s laugh is infectious.
We’d evaluate all our actions in terms of naughty or nice. Last week wasn’t a good week for me, but in the midst of the craziness, I had three chances to look beyond what I wanted and at what would be best for someone else. They weren’t convenient, but I don’t just want to be nice when it suits me. I want to be nice all the time—the way I would be if Santa really existed and recorded every action in an eternal ledger. I wouldn’t want to even take the chance that, in the end, I’d come out more naughty than nice.
We’d have to abandon cynicism for hope. In Miracle on 34th Street, six-year-old Susan asks for a house. And she gets it because Santa is real. The guilt you feel because you can’t provide your kids with the Christmas you’d like to? Write to Santa, and you just might get it anyway. If Santa were real, it would mean anything was possible.
While we might not be able to make anything possible, I think we can switch cynicism for hope the way we would if Santa really existed.
The Detroit radio station I listen to accepted letters where you could nominate someone who deserved a special Christmas, calling it Christmas On Us. Among those chosen was a young woman raising her little brother after their parents died. Because their mom didn’t have life insurance, they’d used everything they had to pay for her funeral. This young woman received a fully decorated Christmas tree, a year’s worth of flowers, a spa treatment, and $600 in Meijer’s gift cards. Enough to make her and her brother’s Christmas special.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Paula Matchett, co-owner (with her husband) of Danny’s Improvements. They’ve started The ROOF Project to give a free new roof to one deserving family a year.
Blogger Amber West founded the #GoWithout Movement. The idea is that, even in tough economic times, we can give up something small. And with hundreds of people doing something small, we can suddenly do what previously seemed impossible.
The choice is ours. Will this year be the year we choose to be nice whether it’s convenient or not? To replace cynicism with hope? Will you chose 2012 to be the year you act as if Santa were real?