As soon as we start to feel chill in the air and we see neighborhood houses decked out in holiday lights, we begin to feel the excitement of Christmas. And for children, it means they are about to be recognized for all the “good” they have shown over the last year.

I was raised to love this holiday and everything it represents. When I was a little girl, my mom would take me to the mall and my heart would race in anticipation knowing that I was about to meet “him.” While waiting on line with other anxious children, I would give myself a quick assessment of my behavior over the last year. Would he know about the mean things I said to my sister or about the little white lies I told my parents? I remember feeling panic that Santa really did know all. Fortunately, Santa always asked me to determine on my own if I was a “good” girl all year, and I would pause… and carefully answer, “I try to be good.”

Children are beautiful and innocent, and innately they want to be perceived as “good” and “nice.” When holiday season begins, the spirit of Santa inspires us to be honest and kind. It gives children hope that their good deeds will be recognized and they will be rewarded for “doing the right thing.” But, this time of year reminds all of us, not just children, to stop and reflect on ourselves as a human being.

I never stopped believing in Santa. I contemplated my beliefs as a whole, and at times I still do. Many of us believed as children and then we grow older and when life gets harder to manage we don’t want to feel as though we are being watched or judged by someone or something we can’t even see. But, then as Christmas season approaches, something magical happens; as though our heart and soul reawaken.

Santa’s symbolism has the power to re-instill our desire for recognition and approval, therefore we want to get in touch with the goodness we possess inside. The holiday season reminds us of Santa’s omnipresence.

Santa represents the innocence in every child; and every adult’s inner child. He represents how children are raised to be honest, or they will be placed on the “naughty” list. Our inner child is exactly this- a child within us that never grows older. It may take some of us longer to embrace our inner child, but he/she is always there quietly observing until we are ready to acknowledge him/her. For me, this is when I became a mom. My whole world changed, yet my familiar child self was there. She reignited my innocence and my beliefs. And she kick-started the fluttering in my heart at the thought of Christmas approaching. My first Christmas as a mom brought me that same excitement and bright smile I had long ago. I could once again recall my warmest memories at the holiday dinner table; my extended Italian family seated across a long festive table, with an added “children’s table” that housed the cousins until college age. Along with each course of food came more eagerness from the children to open their presents. After dessert we would gather around as my uncle played the piano and led us all in carols. The laughter felt endless and the fun never seemed to end. We would play card games and continue laughing until the late hours. In these moments, I learned the only thing that mattered was being present with your loved ones.

As we become parents and proudly raise children on our own, we create new holiday traditions and hope that we are building beautiful memories for our children. We can see the excitement they possess during the holidays and can attribute this to Santa, and to the power of belief. We are responsible for ensuring that Santa will acknowledge our children’s effort in completing their homework every night, in keeping their rooms clean, and refraining from meanness toward others. We raise our children on the importance of respecting their family and friends, and their home. Although, getting them to clean the hamster cage may take many more “reminders” that Santa is watching. After all, “true character is what we do when nobody’s watching.” Although, the ingenious “elf on the shelf” doesn’t hurt this cause. Our children may not fit everyone’s definition of an angel, but they are our angels. And through our faith in the spirit of Santa, we continue to instill self-worth, solid judgment and strong morals within them.

No matter what stage of life we are in, the spirit of Christmas can be a magical feeling! People tend to smile more and make a concerted effort to acknowledge others. And as parents, we view this time as a way to enforce gratefulness and pride in our children. Therefore, we are reminded to be the best parents we can be. Holding on to this faith reminds us to spread essential attributes throughout our household. Santa’s spirit brings so much bliss and anticipating joy we feel all year long. Enticing our children with Santa’s arrival reminds us to stop what we are doing, and relish in the moment. They won’t be children forever. We need to be mindful when our little ones ask us to bake cookies or help them with their science project. We may be exhausted from a long day at work, but it won’t be long before they stop asking. Santa’s spirit holds the power to force us to revisit our own pillars of character. He may be most famous for being a child’s hero, but to me Santa symbolizes the human’s existence of love and kindness. His spirit represents all that matters in life, and my heart will forever hold gratitude for old Saint Nick.

 

Author: Kristin Devaney