Image slideshow of 2007-8 "best of" sports press images.
The real Santa Claus came to Bolton, Massachusetts today!
We all know that Santa hires "Mall Santas" to go around and represent him during this busy season. But that didn't happen today in Bolton. Yes, I was granted an early wish as the real Santa decided to make a surprise visit to Bruce Slater's Great Brook Farms. And there were none of those pesky photographers to get in the way of my own camera and Santa. Bruce's wonderful store was filled with happy children and adults. There were cookies and candy canes and hot cider and a fireplace. What a wonderful treat!
Was this Santa really the genuine article? I am well aware that many decry the Santa tradition as detracting from the religious aspects of the season. Perhaps they feel that Santa is part of the "commercialization" problem of Christmas. Still others feel that Santa is a great big lie and that we harm our children by letting them believe in the lie.
There's a word that describes these people: humbugs! What's wonderful about being a child is that you still have your imagination! As we grow older, this is one of the first things we lose, right along with our childhood innocence. But is what we imagine not real? Do children end up traumatized because their parents perpetuated a grand lie for so many years? Silly! Dr. John Condry of Cornell University interviewed more than 500 children who learned "the truth" and there was not one child who was angry at his or her parents. The most common response was that children felt more mature. My own experiences attest to this finding. We have a Christmas Eve tradition of over half a century of dressing up as Santa for the family and handing out and opening presents. Two years ago my oldest daughter knew it was me and helped me dress that evening. She felt so completely special. She had "grown up". If anyone should be traumatized it should have been me the parent. But even that I cannot complain about because it makes me proud to see my children reach new stages in life.
I haven't yet reached the point where my children don't believe in "The Real Santa". And, truthfully, I hope I never do. What's special about Christmas and Santa is that they are within us. In our adult hearts, I believe we mourn that we lost our gift of imagination and our ability to believe in things beyond ourselves. This is the lie. For it is a fact that there is much that exists beyond us. Yes, it kills me to not be able to tell my daughter that the new microscope came from me. But it also makes me happy at the same time. What keeps this tradition going is that as adults we desperately want to believe!
Christmas doesn't have to be about over-commercialization. Years ago I would have a tradition of frantically shopping one or two days before Christmas and would wrack my brain trying to figure out what to buy for everyone on my list. As I got older, things changed. The spirit of giving is with me quite a bit. And now I regularly see or think of things that would make my loved ones smile. They don't need to be expensive gifts or require trips to a crowded Walmart on Black Friday. This is one of the wonderful advantages of the Internet. You can shop from the comfort of your own home. You can save money and repurpose items from Ebay. Or you can even make your own gifts. The spirit of giving is really what Christmas is about for me. It's a spirit that should be with us all year long. Christmas gives us an opportunity to renew that spirit.
So, Christmas morning I will come downstairs with the kids at 6am. They will open presents. I will show them the half-eaten cookies on the kitchen table and the carrots on the back deck.
And I will smile.
While I am a Dad now, I still believe. For what I didn't tell you was that Santa today pulled me aside and told me to take the letters my children brought for him and put them in their stockings on Christmas morning. I know this Santa cannot go to every house in the world. He needs parents like me to help him do his work. So, why do I believe? I kept looking over at Santa today. He was so kind. He had such a mellow voice. He had a real and old beard! He smiled! He seemed so genuinely happy to be around all the children. He greeted each child in such a special way.
And I kept looking and sneaking a peek.
As we were preparing to leave, I looked once more and Santa gave me a wink!
He knew I believed.
External Link: Great Brook Farms