Updated: Nov 30, 2021
It might be argued that believing in miracles, imaginary characters, and storytelling to be insane or foolish, and some people will go as far as saying it is outright lying! I will argue that it is such belief that proves your sanity! Storytelling (not to be confused with lying) is the truest thing in life; it is truer than even reality. There is more reality in a fictional story than could be told in a scientific journal. That is why G.K. Chesterton says, “literature is a luxury, fiction is a necessity.” And likewise, “Fairyland is nothing but the sunny country of common sense. It is not earth that judges heaven, but heaven that judges earth; so for me at least it was not earth that criticized Elfland, but Elfland that criticized the earth. I knew the magic beanstalk before I had tasted beans; I was sure of the Man in the Moon before I was certain of the moon.”
Believing in Santa and telling his story is a lesson in understanding all of reality, the ancient instinct of astonishment. An astonishment that us parents may have forgotten but were sure to rediscover when having kids of our own.
We all know those people who stop believing in Santa Clause, these are "disgruntled, mentally insane scrooges," and we should distance ourselves from them as they can bring you down with them. Take it from a mental health therapist; sanity lies with believing in Santa. Such belief expresses what they have forgotten – the world is a mysterious and magnificent place. What we call laws do not have to be. The oddity of chained events might be otherwise. Chimneys are not only employed for heat from a fire in which smoke must rise, but a portal just as a wardrobe was a portal to Narnia. A real place by the way! Those who fall into this heresy of scientific fatalism over rationalize cause and effect and have therefore lost out on much wonder. The world does not have to be as it is, and Santa brings us back to this reality.
Thus, Santa Claus is not just made up to entertain kids, like most storytelling. In fact, Saint Nicholas has an interesting historical reference that those who celebrate his feast day (December 6th) can attest to. On this day he is said to put presents in children's shoes or stockings left outside their bedroom door.
Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, for most us sane folks, will find his way down the chimney on Christmas day, after being pulled by flying reindeer to put presents under a tree. It has a most important lesson to teach us, and not just children but most importantly us adults. That lesson is to never stop seeing the world from the lens of a child, for all it's wonder, for all its miracles.
I'll never forget the time when my two oldest thought the moon was following them as I was driving the country roads. There is a time to tell them the truth and there is a time to let them marvel at the world. One of the most rewarding aspects of parenthood is seeing the world again as a child. Just last night celebrating the Feast of Saint Nicholas with some friends, my soon to be three year old was catching some fairies by the fire and letting them go, and as a good father, I let her see the amusement on my face for her unique fairy catching abilities.
G.K. Chesterton on how his belief in Santa Claus increased the older he became…
“What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it. It happened in this way.
As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good – far from it.
And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me…What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still. I have merely extended the idea.
Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.
Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dolls and crackers. Now, I thank him for stars and street faces, and wine and the great sea. Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.”
Odell Terrell is a mental health counselor in Greensboro, NC. He graduated with a MS in Counseling from Divine Mercy University in Arlington, VA, and places an emphasis on working with spiritual integration, adults and adolescents, trauma, family and children, and grief and loss. Odell received his undergraduate degree from the University of St. Leo's in St. Leo Florida, with a degree in Psychology. He has spent his last 15 years working in the field of emergency services. It is in working with people in emergency situations, both patients and first responders, that Odell has learned how to deal respectively with people in crises mode, helping instill a sense of hope and healing. Odell is happily married, for 17 years, and is the father of 9 children and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his family and child therapy practice.