Common Sense Comes to Town!

Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. (Descartes)

What to Do with Santa Claus?

Posted on | August 28, 2011 | No Comments

The holidays are barely over; school hasn’t yet begun yet the Holidays merchandising madness is in full swing again. Only four months left before Christmas – some stores are already putting its paraphernalia back on the shelves and I’m ready to bed that some people have already started redacting their gifts lists. However this year the Holidays will have a very special twist: my children are dangerously nearing the age when it is necessary to stop believing in Santa Claus.

I can already imagine the discussion and the counter-arguments used by my often too clever offspring: “If Santa doesn’t exist, why do we see him everywhere every year?” And I’ll try to convince him that this is but an elaborate staging aiming to allow marvelled children a possibility to retain their confidence in a world where magic really does exist and where dreams are possible.

Fortunately my children have not yet developed a sense of cynicism. I would otherwise see them backhandedly reject this frenzy as a lowly move with purely mercantile motivations. But then again I’m not sure I could back such an argument. We invest considerable amount every year in order to bring back this fantastic character. There isn’t a mall, as modest as it may be, which doesn’t have its own Santa’s Village, with elves and reindeers to boot. Even NORAD simulates Santa’s travels on its website. Is it all really a worthwhile investment?

In truth the argument I fear to hear from my own boys’ mouths is this one : « Why do you pretend there is no Santa when you all still believe in him, even if you don’t admit it? » I would be hard pressed to counter this harsh sentence. We have indeed kept a belief in this more-than-human provider of unforeseen gifts, of easy and effortless happiness.

We wait for the hockey or football player which will turn our favourite team into the league’s champions. We wait for the star politician, honest and reputable, who will in a single election solve all social issues. We wait for multinational conglomerates investments in order to lift whole regions out of poverty. We wait for the new trend to give meaning back to our existence. We wait, we always wait, hoping that when we wake we will find at the foot of the tree the cure to all that is wrong with our lives.

All considered, isn’t the aim of this annual frenzy to convince us that magic and fairy tales are real? Shouldn’t we line up Santa’s and his followers against the wall instead in order to rid our society of this collective numbness? Or should we instead try to highlight a more fundamental truth: we ourselves create and keep alive the magic of Christmas in the heart of children, in the heart of other people. It works the same with every kind of magic: it never occurs if we wait, arms crossed, for something to happen. It only exists when we are spurred to action.

Farewell, Santa Claus.

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