Writing very late on Christmas Eve, it occurs to me to query: when did I stop believing in Santa?
For every child raised in a vaguely Christian tradition–religious or secular—there comes a time when we realise the gift-giving magical man in the red suit does not actually exist. An elder sibling might tell us in a squabble, a friend at school might whisper the idea, a perceptive kid might notice that those presents from Santa are actually carefully bought and wrapped by a parent.
And, for a bit, we will probably keep quiet about this discovery. Perhaps because we don’t want to disappoint anyone—after all, we are surrounded by adults who seem very keen on perpetuating the lie. Perhaps because we have grown rather fond of Santa and his reindeer, and we don’t want to face their loss. Perhaps because we worry the gifts will stop coming when they own up to the truth.
However it happens, eventually we become certain that Santa doesn’t exist. Not that we reject him, disown him, or even kill him off. We simply recognise he never existed in the way the story suggests. And, because the story did not require Santa to be true, the story continues. Nothing lost, except the belief in a lie. Love, peace, happiness and generosity persist.
Now rewind, and play that again, for the mythical separate self—that autonomous individual, that independent consciousness. Rewind, and play it again:
It might a grand denouement; or maybe a growing realisation. And perhaps we don’t fall into line with those perpetuating the lie, perhaps we are courageous enough to face the loss of what we thought we were, perhaps we are open and ready to place the truth above temporary gratification.
However it happens, eventually we become certain that the separate self doesn’t exist. Not that we reject it, disown it, or even kill it off. We simply recognise it never existed in the way the story suggests. And, because the story did not require the separate self to be true, the story continues. Nothing lost, except the belief in a lie. Love, peace, happiness and generosity persist.
Beyond the lie of the separate self, my Christmas wish for us is this:
- That we clearly and directly know love, peace, happiness and generosity without cause.
- That we understand these to be both transcendent reality and intimately our own essential self.
- That we live as love, peace, happiness and generosity in the world that appears in us.
Then the story of Santa lives on in us.
With Love, at Christmastide and Always,