Should Santa Evolve?
Happy holidays. Given the sledgehammer to the nether region the year 2020 has been, I understand the cynicism. No, this won’t take long.
I just had a strange and wonderful thought.
Yes, I have lots of those but this one was special.
I don’t internally celebrate Christmas. This was not the strange thought. This is more of a confession. I never liked the way it was perverted into a reason and target to go shopping by. I am not particularly religious, so it hasn’t a lot of significance for me there, either. Neither the Baby Jesus, amazing ever-burning candles, or the forward-thinking, socio-political event punctuated with meaningful and thoughtful aspirations called Kwanzaa ever quite hit the mark. Though I admire the hell out of Kwanzaa for making me think differently.
Yes, I am going somewhere with this. Bear with me. Weird as it is, Santa was the sweet spot for me as pseudo-religious, man-made holidays went. You could still move me with conversation about Santa until I was about nine or ten and had to help my mother prepare Christmas for my younger siblings.
Oh SHIT! Santa wasn’t real? Are you kidding me? Of course he’s real. WE wrote him letters and put them in the MAILBOX, the most official box you could know of that wasn’t the POST OFFICE or for me, THE LIBRARY. I was speechless. My mother made it like I was involved in an initiation rite into a secret cabal where you learn YOU are one of Santa’s helpers.
Yes. That is how long the pause was in my heart when she says these words. I never loved my mother more than in that second. It still gives me a moment of warmth, a very pure moment of joy.
It was then I learned coal from Santa was a choice. Santa could choose to give kids toys OR coal. Here’s where the strange thought comes in. We could modernize Christmas by changing the emphasis of the holiday. Be Saint Nicholas or perhaps Father Yule and consider the very nature of the gift itself.
Why does Santa give coal? Depending on where you live on Earth and under what conditions, you might actually be bad just to HAVE coal to stay warm with… I know. Weird thought. Almost there…
Santa giving coal was a punishment, yes I get it. But perhaps we are old enough to allow this myth to take on a new spin. How about WE give the gift of trees, different seeds or seedlings to each other? Plant a tree every year and if millions of us do it every year, like clockwork we can begin the good work of repairing our home planet as a bonus.
No matter if you were good or bad the gift of trees or dedicated service to the most vulnerable of us, to the people we know are down and out — coordinate the effort if we must — call them Griot Centers and then organize the efforts of this week (cause a day isn’t long enough to help everyone in need).
Hey, if it gets good to you, maybe we do it all month. Imagine what we could do with a dedicated month of coordinated service to our fellows?
Stranger thought. Hold on, now.
What if doing good to each other, for each other, became a thing?
Not something we just do in December, all month, because we are amazing people who love each other and want the best for everyone around them. I mean that would be great, wouldn’t it? But technically, we should already be that amazing, but because it was the right thing to do, all the time, just not one day a year.
But what if it could? What if it just happened. In every transaction between people, electronic or otherwise. We’re onto something here. There is only one question remaining. Why hasn’t someone already invented this?
I mean, we have, technically, seen Christmas (and similar holidays) as a substitute for the idea that we are, in the underlying subtext:
“One day a year, you will treat your fellow man with perfect dignity and upmost respect. You will, even if you are waging war, lay down your weapons and break bread in truce, just because on this night we are all brothers.”
Who would create a holiday so great and only have that holiday, once a year?
Wouldn’t you want that holiday, every day?
Wouldn’t you want to enjoy and be truly able to believe we ARE all in this together, no matter where we live, no matter what we do for a living, no matter where we were born, no matter how many languages we speak, no matter whose divinity you worship; wouldn’t you want to feel this good because you know somewhere or somewhen, it had happened before — wouldn’t you demand it — every day of your life?
What are we going to call this holiday, every day, y’all?
What do we call this state of grace we want to live under?
We can start it on Christmas Day and change the expected outcomes.
Plant a tree, work at a homeless shelter, care for someone who is unable to care for themselves and actually know them by name. Expand our circles of friends, in a gentle and loving way. Next year we make it two weeks. The next year three weeks. Full court press in service to our most challenged members of society. Every year we’d we just expand it a bit each year until we do it all the time, everywhere we are. To everyone. And it’s as natural as breathing. As natural as war appears to be today.
If I truly understood anyone, anywhere, is kin, barring culture, time or space. Challenging they may be to deal with, but permeable barriers, gently passed through with time, I must realize this truth: Why would I hurt my brother, no matter where he was, why would I not treat fairly with him to ease his burdens, not increase them? Shouldn’t I be able to expect the same treatment from him?
Santa needs to evolve.
I don’t know what we would call the holiday, and I am open to suggestions, but it’s time. We need to give back to the Earth and each other, not by buying things but by remembering how lucky we are to have the power of choice.
And that we use that choice to do for each other, as each other, eradicating war, pollution, corruption, exploitation and any other act that doesn’t end with treating each other as no less than magnificently Human.
It’s a choice I can exercise right now. Any time I choose to. Or don’t. That, too is a terrible and all-to-evident choice we should stop making.
Thank you, Mom. I get it now.
Happy Holidays, Y’all.