Santa Claus and Other Myths

by Belinda Munoz on December 14, 2009

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This time of year puts me in a reflective mood about myths, believing in them, and being disillusioned with them.

While I was schooled in the Christian traditions of Christmas, I’m aware that this is not exactly an all-inclusive season. The three synagogues within a few blocks of my house as well as the Asian shops on my street devoid of festive clues remind me of this daily. I won’t even mention the ever-growing population of atheists who, of course, have a right to believe what they choose to believe. Or should I say disbelieve what they disbelieve? I’m ignorant on this topic so please forgive me if my words are inaccurate.

In an attempt to illustrate this reflective mood, I offer this little story:

Not exactly his first choice of destination, but on a weekend morning, he, not even three feet tall, entered a room full of brunching merrymakers. A big, darkened room, glittering balloons of gold and green, and the smell of freshly cooked bacon wafting in the air greeted him at the door. Nobody else noticed except for a few who eagerly anticipated his arrival.

There were big smiles. There were suffocating hugs. There were unreciprocated kisses.

That was a good enough beginning for him.

He remembered being there before. Exactly a year ago. The room was just as big. The guests were just as many and impersonal. But now, the occasion was no longer as unfamiliar as it was then. Still, the beginning was a time for caution.

Truthfully, he’d rather be home on a gloomy, stormy day dressed in his favorite striped pyjamas and red bathrobe his grandma made for him. Playing with brightly-colored miniature rubber bento boxes, sushi and fruits. A growing collection of prized possessions acquired by taking a trip to Japantown. And by cooperating. A true test of his growing character as he, more and more, followed his bliss and path to independence.

Minutes passed. He looked around the room gaining confidence. Like before, he wasn’t meant to stay in one place for very long. He ventured off and ran around. In no time, he was laughing. Rolling around on the floor. Doing somersaults.

His momma looked on. Always protective. Always proud. Always struggling to let him go. Exactly like last year.

But this year, something was different. Though his spirit was too free and too restless to stand in a long and slow-moving line, he eagerly popped in at the very end. He knew very well what was to happen. This year, unlike the year before, he sat on Santa’s red lap, alone, like a big boy. There was no smile for the camera but there was also no coaxing, no tears, no terrified looks. Only cautious, furtive glances. Calm and searching.

His momma, watching the whole time, felt a tear rise but caught it just in time. Her heart was full. She realized that something else was different from last year. She knew that this year, he believed in Santa. That this myth, to him, was real. That he would believe in Santa’s magic and other myths for many years…

Until one day, he would stop believing. (Just like one day, she stopped believing. In Santa. In hope. In miracles. In giving without expecting anything in return. In the power of kindness.)

But that’s in the future. A tabula rasa. A clean slate. Where much is unknown.  Unscripted. Unpredictable.

And this is today. A day when his momma indulged in existential musings. Not about the future, but strictly about the present. She reflected on Santa’s gift to her this year. A very good gift. With a little help from Santa’s little helper who brought her back to a place he knew so well.  A place she had forgotten.

This little helper, not even three feet tall, brought her back from disbelieving all myths to believing again that some myths can become reality. That hope is a savior to the despairing. That a miracle is taking place right now. That there are kind souls who give without expecting anything in return. That the power of kindness can breathe life to those slowly dying.

Image by Matti Mattila

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Patty - Why Not Start Now? December 14, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Hi Belinda – What a beautiful story. Your writing moves me so much, and I feel a kinship with you right now. I went away from myth myself for a long time, but found my way back, through children’s literature and fairy tales. I realized (with help) that a child’s ability to believe speaks to something deep and profound in all of us that often gets lost in adulthood. Many of my rediscoveries about the power of myth are thanks to Jonathan Young, mythologist, storyteller, psychologist. If you or someone else here is interested, his site is folkstory.com; click on “mythic resources” and you’ll find a treasure trove of articles on the subject.

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2 Belinda Munoz December 14, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Hi Patty. Thank you! You summarized the “space” I’m in right now so well. I get that some realizations are way too personal, but I hoped that a story might make it more relateable. I wanted to touch on the sadness when a child stops believing in Santa Claus and how it’s not a sad when an adult stops believing in myths.

I will definitely check out Jonathan Young and visit his link. Thanks!

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3 Indigo December 14, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Beautiful!

Having had a horrendous childhood myself, I lost that magical period of childhood. Until my daughter Skye was born, it all came rushing back and hers was the most magical childhood of all.

Now that she is grown, I still pander to the kid in me. I never again want to be an adult who forgets there is beauty to be found in the simplest things. We could all learn from seeing life through a childs eyes.

Thank you, for a beautiful post. (Hugs)Indigo

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4 Miche - Serenity Hacker December 14, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Hi Belinda, this was a great story, and really well-written. You’ve touched on the true spirit of Christmas, the miracle of giving and kindness… and children often help us remember all that’s good, too. Thanks so much for sharing this story here. I really enjoyed reading it.

Cheers,
Miche 😉

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5 Malo December 16, 2009 at 8:55 pm

I love this story. It makes me feel nostalgic. Children in their most candid ways can re-teach us the magic of Christmas, among other things. What a wonderful gift they are!

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