SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

December 19, 2012

Column: Getting back to the basics of Santa

Among the many casualties associated with the economic crises of the early 2000s is belief in Santa Claus. Santa has been defined, and redefined, many times over the last several centuries, and has been transformed into a super marketing tool by corporations in recent years. The latter is increasingly a real problem for families who are struggling to get by. When Santa Claus becomes associated with money to buy “things,” and when there isn’t enough money to go around for necessities, he has gotten put on the list of things to cut in many households. Santa Claus has become another victim of the economic downturn—and he had nothing to do with it.

Most people like Santa, whether they see him as part of a religious tradition or not, and they frankly don’t want to see him and his reindeer pushed over the fiscal cliff. The problem is they aren’t sure how to deal with him in a way that makes sense today. They aren’t sure whether they can afford to have him in their lives, but they aren’t sure they can afford not to. So here are some thoughts to consider about how to keep Santa alive, but in an appropriate place, in our hearts and minds this season and next.

Think back through your childhood. What do you remember most dearly about the December holidays? Was it a particular material gift — or is it recollections about family, singing, cooking, decorating, having fun together, figuring out how to let others feel loved, and hoping that dreams could come true? We outgrew that special outfit; over time the toys broke or disappeared and presents we liked simply wore out and were replaced with different ones. We now know that things come and go. But memories? They last forever. They keep our hearts warm and they bring us joy today, just as they did way back when.

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