Friday, December 28, 2007

It Ain't Over Until Epiphany!

I am sorely frustrated that Christmas seems to have come and gone when it's only really started. Christmastide extends until Epiphany at the end of the twelve days of Christmas. Many people claim to suffer a letdown right after Christmas. I submit to you that it is because they do not celebrate the twelve days but consider Christmas Day as the end rather than the beginning of the "Christmas season."

That isn't, however, the only frustration I have at Christmas each year. My second frustration are the non-believers, and by non-believers I mean those who choose to believe that Santa Claus is not real. I find those people to be frustrating beyond what I can tolerate.

I point you to the following that I gleaned from the Newseum website. It is quite famous, and I'm sure you've heard/read it before. If you are a non-believer I encourage you to read it again.

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

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.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

My own personal note to the non-believers:
C'mon! Lighten up! If you aren't careful you'll be visited by three spirits next Christmas Eve to get you to give up your bah humbug scroogelike views. How hard is it to believe in a spirit of giving and in just a bit of Christmas magic?

[steps off soapbox, adjusts santa hat, and walks away trailing bits of tinsel]


Stinkypaw said...

Trust me, I DO believe in Santa! I guess I'm just feeling the "fear" that soon everything that I enjoy so much will be done. I'm doing a countdown, in a sort of twisted way, of how many days I have left to "enjoy" this time of year...
Actually, I just realised that I'm doing exactly what I hate about my husband when we're off on vacation somewhere, he counts the days left before we return... I MUST stop that now! Thanks! :-D

Serenity said...

Because i was not allowed to believe in Santa as a kid, i had a hard time passing on this bit of magical lying to my own kids. There are ways to encourage belief in the magic of the season without developing the cult of the old white guy. Sorry, but i'm really ambivalent about the whole Santa thing.

Desmond Jones said...

Thanks, Truey; I was starting to feel like the resident 'Christmas curmudgeon' for banging the drum that Christmas is just getting started! Of course, 'commercial Christmas' has pretty completely swallowed up the whole concept of Advent in the public imagination, so just when Christmas ought to be getting started, everybody's exhausted from the commercial hustle, and ready to be done with anything even remotely associated w/ Christmas. (sigh) Well, at least I know I'm not alone. . .

I'm sort of 'amiably ambivalent' when it comes to Santa. While I'm a long, long way from the folks who like to point out that 'Santa' is anagrammatic w/ 'Satan', I do recall from my own childhood (way back before cell phones and DVRs) that, when I eventually figured out the 'mythic' nature of Santa Claus, the disillusionment sort of spilled over onto other persons who I couldn't see but was supposed to believe in (to wit, God). So, when it came to dealing with my own kids, I didn't really want to recapitulate that doubt. But, I have fond memories of 'the magic of Santa', and didn't really want to shut my kids out of all that, either. Besides which, it isn't really possible to isolate kids from the idea of Santa, anyway. So, we've always told our kids that Santa is like a fun game, with the whole story and legend of St. Nicholas, and all that, and we've enjoyed him on that basis. We also tell them that some of their friends think Santa is 'really real', and they shouldn't go around spoiling the game for others. It ain't perfect, but it's worked for us. . .

Trueself said...

SP - Glad I could help.

Serenity - I think that the concept of Santa has become convoluted in some ways, but if we focus on the origin of Saint Nicholas and how we should use that giving spirit as a guide for own actions then we give honor to Santa.

Des - Glad I could join you in the fight for Christmas just being underway.