Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exists, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. – Charles Dana
I wish this time of the year had a Pause button. The week before Christmas has always been a special time for me. The tastes, smells, sights and sounds warm my heart and continue to fill me with excitement and anticipation.
To make this week more special, all of our children are home for Christmas. It’s fun to celebrate our family traditions together. One tradition that ended last year, however, is setting out milk and cookies for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
Emily, our 11-year-old, overheard the older kids at school give the lowdown on Santa. That night Mary Beth and I told our daughter that while Santa is not an actual person, he can live in each one of us when we choose to believe in his spirit.
The spirit of Santa also makes for a very good teacher. Santa reminds us to be good and to ask for what we want. The lessons Santa teaches at Christmas are important ones we can carry into the rest of the year. After raising four children to believe in Santa Claus, I have discovered 10 year-long lessons that will make the other 11 months full of wonder and excitement, too.
- Be good for goodness sake.
When our actions are consistently good ones, then we have little to fear. It can often feel like we are not rewarded for the good things we do. But we are watched and a scorecard is being kept on the good things we do – sort of like Santa’s book that keeps track of who is being naughty and nice.
The score is not displayed on a giant scoreboard or announced in a public arena. The score is quietly written onto our souls instead. The higher the score the better we feel.
- Focus on the needs of others.
Our unselfish acts are the ultimate gifts we give. When our attention is placed on the needs of others then we will receive more than expected. Be the Santa for everyone in your life and then ready yourself for the most fulfillment you will ever receive.
- When giving, give from the heart.
Follow your heart. Allow it to guide your actions when selecting the most appropriate gifts possible. Listen intently to what is being requested and then respond with love and care.
- Feel the magic in your life.
Santa Claus is the ambassador of wonder and surprise. Many children wake early on Christmas morning to see what Santa has brought. This feeling of anticipation, along with a tinge of exhilaration, is a part of makes this time of the year so magical.
As adults we can experience this same sense of excitement, and magic, when we take the time to look for the wonder in our lives. It can be found every morning when we realize the day ahead has been offered as a gift, provided in the perfect size and made just for us.
- Take the time to hear others.
Santa is a really good listener. Part of his legend has millions of children from all over the world sitting on his lap and whispering into his ear the things they want most for Christmas. Santa nods and then repeats back what he hears to make sure he has it right.
Even though Santa may not be able to deliver on every request, he lets the child know he is listening and hears what she has to say. When we give others our full attention and take the time to hear what they have to say, then we are providing a truly meaningful gift.
- Believe you can fly
Although reindeer really can’t fly, it’s fun to think they can – at least once during the year. We can’t fly either in the physical sense, but one lesson we can learn from Santa Claus is our dreams do not bound us to the ground. When we let go and allow hope to guide us, we can soar as high as we would like to go.
- Know where you live.
Christmas, and spirit of Santa Claus, is a feeling as much as it is a day. For me, this feeling lives in my heart. When I live from my heart, I feel happier, peaceful and more encouraged. For me, living from the heart means I make decisions and choices based on what my heart tells me to do and what feels right.
Know where you live and when you find it’s from your heart, then the world may feel brighter all year long.
- Remember to laugh.
Santa’s “Ho Ho Ho” is as iconic as his red suit. His large and boisterous laugh is unmistakable and provides a good example of why laughter is so important – because it’s contagious. It’s hard not to laugh when we hear others laugh. Remember to laugh and then enjoy the symphony of laughter you create.
- It is more important to give than to receive.
So, why is it better to give than to receive in the first place? Even though we live in a “want it right now” world, Santa reminds us that when our focus is more on the giving part and less on the receiving part, then, ironically, we are able to find more fulfillment for ourselves in the long run.
There’s a good reason why Santa’s legend continues to live year after year. And that reason is found in the basic truth that when we give of ourselves, and expect nothing in return, then we are providing the most authentic love possible. And when we share authentic love we are, in turn, filled right back up with it.
- Take time to enjoy the cookies.
Santa Claus is a busy man on Christmas Eve. He has millions of stops with very little time to get everything done. But, he still takes the time to take a bite from a cookie and then enjoys a sip of cold milk to wash it down.
We can learn a lot from his habit. No matter how busy we are, or how busy we think we are, there is still time to enjoy the cookies. And when we do, we are able to enjoy our lives a little more along the way.
Emily has now joined her siblings with the knowledge of Santa Claus, but Santa’s spirit still lives in the Blackwell house. The gifts are ready, the baking is done and the house is decorated. This week promises to be a joyful one because each of us will be Santa for the other.
On Saturday, however, the Pause button will be released and our lives will being playing to their ordinary routines again. My Christmas wish is we keep the feelings of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning close to our hearts and remember Santa’s lessons all year long.