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FIRST of all: Santa does not discriminate! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's, Ramadan, or whatever, SANTA hopes this site will do its small share to make the world a "smaller" place through promoting a better understanding of all cultures.
Is Santa Claus Real:
As parents, there are many questions we need to address. One seemingly silly yet persistant question parents need to answer is “Is Santa real?” And then they often ask themselves “What should I tell my kids about Santa Claus?”
Shari Kuchenbecker, PhD, a research psychologist and author of “Raising Winners”, says when her children were young, she told them Santa Claus was a symbol of loving, giving, and hope. "I never said Santa Claus was a real person," she said, stressing how important it is never to lie to children.
The question needs to be viewed as a subset of another question: Is the spirit of fiction real? Tad Waddington, author of "Lasting Contribution: How to Think, Plan, and Act to Accomplish Meaningful Work" offers a solid foundation and strategy for working out solutions to our question in an paper he wrote that appeared in Psychology Today. He mentions several clever examples. Here are two:
1. “A broken clock is perfectly accurate twice a day, as when the clock says it is 1:05 and it is, in fact, 1:05. Although at 1:05 when this clock is true (in that there is a one-to-one correspondence between the broken clock and everybody else's clocks), this clock is useless. On the other hand, a clock that is reliably fast or slow--by minutes or hours--is useful. All you have to do is know how much to add or subtract to what's on the clock to get the correct time.”
2. “Whose love has had a greater effect on the world-the true love of some real but obscure farmers married for fifty years or Romeo and Juliet's fictional love? Whose love has inspired more love? Measured by the effect on others, whose love is more real, the real love or the fictional love?”
Tad Waddington explains that the goal of the exercise is to establish the definition of “truth”. “This observation suggests that people's intuitive definition of truth may not necessarily take them where they want to go. That is, an idea may be true but useless, or untrue and useful...”
Yvonne M. Vissing, PhD , Department of Sociology at Salem State College wrote a paper on “Psycho-Social Implications of Believing In Santa Claus” Vissing says Santa Claus has become a controversial character within both families and communities. While he is a beloved figure across time and cultures, he has often come under attack by many different factions especially religious leaders for not exclusively promoting Christian doctrines enough and/or for being promoted to children as a substitute for Jesus. Conversely, Santa Claus is also under attack by secular leaders for promoting materialism as well as a Christian based ideology. In this day of cultural diversity and heightened political sensitivity, families and communities are not sure quite how to deal with the presence of Santa Claus.
The fact that the Santa dilemma has become so emotional and important and why he has become so controversial is, in and of itself, an answer to our question: Is Santa Claus Real? Even if for no other reason, the fact that "Santa" is considered to be such a "real" and powerful threat needing to be reckoned with, is all the proof we should need. And ironically for those who would prefer to see the legend rubbed out, the attacks are like shooting with a backfiring gun: The more you strike at him the more legitimatize his existence! No one shoots at an enemy unless they believe it to be real!
Maybe the debate over the relevance of Santa has little to do with Santa himself. Rather, that he is being used as a vehicle for different factions to promote their own political agendas. But to be realistic, what real popular figure has not been exploited in such a way? In the United States, at least, people are (ideally) not in the habit of "erasing" a person because we don't agree with his or her message.
Vissing feels that the argument about whether to allow children to believe in Santa isn’t about Santa at all; rather, she says, it is an argument that is far greater, much more philosophic. He (Santa Claus) is the misplaced focus of a debate about the importance of faith, and a vigorous attempt by believers and nonbelievers alike to vie for the definition of reality - a definition that can shape children' views of themselves and the future. This is no small thing.
Well all of the above effort in defining what is “truth” and “real” do help to establish that Santa Claus is real! We don’t attempt to define Santa Claus himself above, just verify his existence. And I think we have succeeded. But in fairness and in his defense I pose another question: Why are so many people so afraid of Santa Claus?
Perhaps if we take Vissing’s statement above and we substitute “selflessness” in place of the word “faith”, it would illustrate that Santa Claus is a an effective yet positive and harmless metaphor, just like Pinocchio, that helps teach positive values to children. Yes, admittedly merchants sell Pinocchio books and make money, studios make Pinocchio movies and make money. And I am sure toys, puzzels, clothes and games are all in on the plan. But if people can make money doing something beneficial, isn’t that better than the other way around.
So the goal may be to stop trying to deny the existence of Santa Claus, and instead use the power of this established icon and legend with reverence. Simply put: Sell the Pinocchio books, but don’t change the moral of the story!
Now I put on my chef hat:) As the author I have an option and opportunity to summarize everything above in a prejudiced way and make it sound like fact. But instead I will come right out and tell you that everything below is my own opinion and nothing more.
Many parents, by rote, follow in their parents' footsteps and teach their children that Santa is the one brings boys and girls presents on Christmas Eve, and what and how much you get depends upon if you're on Santa's "good" or "bad" list. But it seems more and more parents are starting to ask if telling children that Santa Claus is real is, in fact, a lie and ultimately may contribute to diminishing the trust between the parent and child. If you present Santa’s Stories as legend, and the Santa character as the embodiment of what the Spirit of Santa represents, then it’s a story with all the needed details to depict the character and the moral of the story.
Shari Kuchenbecker told told her children Santa Claus was a symbol of loving, giving, and hope. She never said Santa Claus was a real person. I personally have done the same. I detest lying to children. A still have a couple of young children who will be asking the same question soon, and I will continue to take the same approach.
Free advice: Perhaps it is better to decide how YOU feel and only then share it with your child in an honest and age-appropriate manner. Is Santa Claus only real if he is a man of the flesh who walks the earth and sometimes literally flies in a magic sleigh? Does he have to be able to pinch himself and say "ouch" or else have all his storybooks pulled off the shelves and burned? Or, on the contrary, is Santa Claus not only real but bigger than life because he is powerful and popular metaphor for teaching really important values. And maybe because, as parents, we all know that flesh and blood role models always fall short of the 100%-mark, we should look to fiction that is based upon life’s real truths to sometimes do the stunt work for us as role-models so we don’t fall and get hurt!
They’re done and below is my own personal recipe: As Waddington illustrates fictitious characters often succeed as “real” teachers where “real” teachers fail. So around the holiday season when there is extra money to be made let us consider this approach: If shopkeepers make money from increased seasonal business sales but in the process don’t betray or invert the message and the spirit of Santa Claus, and the end result is an investment in keeping financially solvent an institution that by design teaches our kids to have empathy, compassion and generosity, then that’s not too shabby!
For a completely unscientific perspective, I welcome you to read a poem I wrote: “Is Santa Real?” http://www.santa.net/is-santa-claus-real.html
I struggled with for a while, since lying offends me, especially to a loved one and a child. But I no longer struggle with the answer since I provide this a more eloquent and inspired by the moment version of the following crude statement: If we learn something very important from someone, he or she is more real than a flesh and blood person who never gave so much to the world. That makes the answer easy and honest. "Harry Potter" may be a contender?
People such as: "Chaplin", "Bojangles", "Churchill", "Mother Theresa" ("Mother" is added out of respect not necessity.) "Van Gogh", "Shakespeare", "Picasso", "Poe", "Pasteur" and I believe even "Pinocchio" and "Santa", who positively continue to teach and inspire us and our children, fall into a special category that feels uncomfortable if dishonored. It is best described with a couple of analogies: "The battle between fur traders and animal conservationist and zoologists." "Or the battle between the "Tree Huggers and the Lumber Industry." In the end, humanity teaches us to not only accept man's imperfection, but to marvel at its diversity and the growth it spurs. In that light, think of this: How does "MotherTheresa.com" sound to you? Kind of like squid ice cream?
Maintaining a reverence for this class of "Chosen Ones" that time has elevated to unique summit in our society, is a responsibility I have very unintentionally come to shoulder. I can identify with the character Tim Allen portrayed, (OK everybody, it's Tool Time!), when Santa fell off the roof and he walked over to help, he had no idea of just what was in store for him! And similarly, when my young son and I (He was home sick that day I believe and we were playing on the computer) purchased "Worldcup.org" and "Santa.net" in the 1996, I had no idea of what I was in store for. I felt guilty (I was raised a Roman Catholic.) keepingcup.org because I felt I was keeping it away from it rightful home. I let that domain name go and now FIFA has it and that makes sense. But a funny thing happened in months that followed my son and I setting up Santa.net: The letters to Santa started coming in. Letters were mostly predictable: "For Christmas I want..." or "Sometimes I wasn't good will I still get presents?" But, other times the letters moved me sometimes to the point of making me uncomfortable. Letters from parents not kids: "I am too old to believe in you but my husband died in the war and please make the pain go away fro our son this Christmas..." Or, don't give me any presents this year just bring peace to the world. Well the letters keep coming...
Just last night an indirect letter to Santa came in came in and it inspired my writing this story: "Dear whomever owns the santa.net domain (im sorry sir I did not catch your name), I would just like to tell you that you helped me alot, Im 23 years old and have just moved into a house with my girlfriend who i'm engaged to be married and we've been talking about maybe in a few years starting a family of our own when inevitibly the subject of santa came up and we couldn't decide if it was right or wrong to tell a child that santa is real, after reading something which you posted on wikianswers.com I can safely say that you have reassured me that it would be the right thing, so thank you very much for your help. Sorry about this random e-mail (i bet you freaked out when you saw this in your inbox haha) So best of luck with the site I hope your getting lots of traffic near christmas time."
So when I spend my time playing/working on Santa.net and I see the worried look in my wife's eyes and I have no idea why I continue to spend so much time on it, at least I have the memories of the people who may have been helped by what Santa gives us. Like Pinocchio, Santa's message is real. And it's by no means a DOT-COM type of message. Santa is not a store or a business. It's more of a DOT-NET type of network. A positive spirit providing non-denominational, spirit-of-giving-and-caring fun to everyone with a cool dude as the host. (Not me by any means -- I haven't even been promoted to "Elf" yet!) Santa. That's the man, icon, name, pure and simple complete with its plus rating for a first name basis. Ask any kid who "Santa" is, it's a no brainer. And having this domain name in my possession, I am both obligated and glad to give his home on the Internet a place of honor so it doesn't feel like squid ice cream. I am proud to have a small role as "Keeper of the Flame". The Spirit that is given to you when our souls are born is the spirit that Santa tries to keep alive. It is non-denominational and it is unselfish and compassionate. With these qualities the world will be a better place for our children and their children to. Without these qualities, the world may not be any more real than Pinocchio in a few years! So thanks Santa. And Stay Real!
Santa Claus History
Traditionally speaking, Saint Nicholas was born in the ancient Lycian seaport city of Patara, and, when young, he traveled to Palestine and Egypt. He became bishop of Myra soon after returning to Lycia. He was imprisoned during the Roman emperor Diocletian's persecution of Christians but was released under the rule of Emperor Constantine the Great and attended the first Council (325) of Nicaea.
Is Santa Claus real? Only you decide: Maybe when people ask "Is Santa Claus real or not?", what they should really ask is if what Santa Claus stands for is real or not: Kindness, generosity, unselfishness. These Santa Claus virtues ARE CERTAINLY real and valuable!
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