Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Chapter In Which I Almost Ruin Christmas For Some Poor Kid

Dear Charlotte,
A little elf told me you had a not so great experience in Youth Group a couple of weeks ago. In our discussion of Santa Claus it appeared to be revealed that Santa Claus does not exist. Now I have a little secret to tell you... I still believe in Santa.  And while I am pretty good lookin' , I am considerably older than you! I also believe that there are magical worlds to be visited on the other sides of rainbows, through wardrobe doors and down rabbit holes - but maybe that's because I'm a little cray cray :)  But how could I not believe in Santa? He's everywhere. In fact, I'm looking at him right now on my can of Diet Coke! Santa has existed for hundreds of years and in hundreds of forms for hundreds of cultures. Sinterklaas, St Nicholas, Father Christmas, Pere Noel. In some cultures he doesn't give gifts at all but creates a feeling of Christmas spirit. In some countries he visits on the 5th or 6th of December and others on the New Year. Sometimes he has deer. Sometimes he flies alone on the wind. Sometimes he wears red, other times green. He's kinda like Madonna, he just keeps reinventing himself. In any case how can something so enduring and that is here only for the forces of good and all that is freakin' awesome not be real???  I reject that.
And maybe you can't explain it all. Is he a real dude that slips down your chimney in the middle of the night? Does he have an army of industrious, mischievous, little elves? And does he really  know what is going on in each and every household in the world? Frankly it all sounds a little creepy to me. But maybe he exists in different ways. In 1897, in the most famous editorial ever written, Frank Church wrote: " Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished." 
Ok,  a tad wordy and dramatic, but he makes a good point!
Looking back, I realize we were all wrong in letting this conversation go the way it did in Youth Group. Whether Santa Claus exists or not is often a hot button topic at the holidays, particularly among the young folks like yourself and I fear we let the conversation pass too quickly. Unitarian Universalists are known for sharing their various beliefs and personal ideals... A LOT!  We do this the most when it's about things that are mysterious or magical. UU's are also known for questioning commonly held beliefs. But most importantly, UU's are open to and accepting of the beliefs of others. This is true in regards to our understandings of Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Heaven, The Bible and yes, even dear old Santa Claus!  And we were wrong in Youth group to only spend time on the one idea that Santa does not exist.
So you can and should go ahead and believe whatever feels right for you. Even if it seems totally cray cray. And sometimes, ESPECIALLY when it seems totally cray cray.  Like the Journey song says and the cast of Glee reminds us... don't stop believing! I certainly won't.
Merry Christmas,

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