The funny thing is I wasn’t really envisioning gifts or the way he would get in my house, I was just feeling so, so, good, and everything seemed magical.
I always think about that when I think of Santa. Of course I loved Santa’s presents, but that’s not really what Santa gave me.
Santa just made me feel like everything was right in the world, that things were on track, that on Christmas Eve I could put away anxiety and concern and just fall into the goodness of it all.
That’s why I believe in him. Santa is a symbol of goodness, of fairness, and he reminds me of what I fail to notice a lot of the time. Santa happens to pop up in December, but he is a reminder of what is true every day of the year.
Many of us feel frustration with Santa because of the overwhelming expectation or the overdoing of “stuff” for the kids. But that’s not Santa’s fault – that’s what we created with our own thinking.
And unfortunately, that’s the Santa we too often share with our kids. I don’t recall any book or movie where Santa said, “The more stuff and the more expensive, the better!” That was our creation; that was our misinterpretation of what it means to give.
The Santa I know is a lot more similar to Kris Kringle in A Miracle on 34th Street – the Santa that suggests sharing, connecting, laughing, blowing big bubbles with bubblegum, being a kid at heart, and most importantly, continuing to believe.
What does he want us to believe? He wants us to believe in the spirit of the season, in the joy of living from the center of ourselves (instead of buying into the illusions of the outside world), and in the power of love and relationships.
Getting toys and opening presents is great, but it’s fleeting and a very small piece of the big picture. Santa reminds us to reconnect to our child-like awareness so we can notice the love and magic in our everyday lives.
At the end of the season I put my decorations away and move toward the next big thing, but I keep a few Santa books out year round. December may come and go, but his message is always relevant.
What I remember feeling on Christmas Eve at 8 or 9 is one of those deeply ingrained moments, a feeling of pure joy.
I often find myself chasing those old feelings, but I am beginning to recognize that certain types of joy are reserved only for children.
But when I see Santa or when I hear the bells I am reminded of the possibilities. I remember the true meaning of this time of year, or really, any time of year.
And I am comforted that my children can have a relationship with Santa way beyond their childhood. They can anticipate and have faith in the excitement and emotions that always reemerge this time of year.
They can appreciate that Santa reminds us to view the world in a more heart-centered and magical way.
Then, hopefully, it will always be easy to believe.
Cathy Cassani Adams, LCSW, CPC, is the author of The Self-Aware Parent, the host of Zen Parenting Radio, a columnist for Chicago Parent Magazine, and a blogger for Chicago Now. She’s a self-awareness teacher and yoga instructor in her community, and she teaches in the Sociology Department at Dominican University. Find Cathy on Facebook (The Self-Aware Parent or Zen Parenting Radio) and on Twitter (@selfawareparent or @zenparenting) and on her website www.cathycadams.com.