I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about faith recently. About my faith and my religion and how I practice it. Or, rather, how I’ve failed to practice it for so long. Now all this thinking has mostly revolved around a character named Michael Carpenter from the Dresden Files novels and why he’s one of my favorite characters ever. However, I just can’t find a way to tie the character into Christmas outside of his belief of Jesus. Which is why I have instead decided to talk about the first “God” figure I ever truly believed in as a kid: Santa Claus.
When I was a kid, I didn’t really have a concept of what religion was. Being a kid in a Catholic family who went to church every week, I didn’t really get why. I only saw mass as an hour wasted every Sunday. “God” was a concept that I didn’t truly get. An invisible man who’s all around us, made the universe, and has some grand plan for all of us? The concept is just confusing for kids. My first real concept of God wasn’t from church. It was from a commercialized concept that has come to symbolize and personify the whole holiday. The first “God” I believed in truly was Santa Claus.
(DISCLAIMER: Most of the following is based on the Catholic belief in God. It’s the only “God” I’ve ever “known” about. If your beliefs are different, I apologize for my ignorance. Just keep in mind, these are just my observations.)
Think of it this way. God, as most people think of him, is a big, powerful being. He watches you at all times, omnipotent and omnipresent. He’s everywhere. When your life is over, he judges you. If you’ve been good, you get eternal reward. If you’ve been bad, you get your punishment in a fiery hell.
Now think about Santa. He’s a pretty big guy and it’s assumed he has magical powers being that he goes all around the world in one night. He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows if you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good. And based on what he knows, he labels you: Naughty or nice? Nice kids get toys. Naughty kids get something that is supposed to burn. Face it. For a lot of kids, Santa is basically God.
As a young boy, I may not have understood the concept of God, but I definitely believed in Santa Claus. I believed he was always watching. I believed that he knew when I did something bad. So, based on those beliefs, I always tried to be good so that I would get all the things I asked for at Christmas. I believed in Santa with all my heart.
Nowadays, I’m not sure what I believe in. I’m still Catholic, but only because I’m too lazy to say I’m anything else. I’ll tell you one thing, though. I still believe in Santa Claus. Not the man, but the feeling. Santa Claus, for me, represents that child-like wonder in all of us. That pure, simple hope that, if we’re good, we’ll be rewarded. That little piece in all of us that, at one time in our lives, believed in flying reindeer, magic bags, and jolly old men who travel the world. That feeling inside of you when you see something beautiful, something breath-taking, like presents suddenly piled under a colorful, bright Christmas tree seemingly over night, and you know there’s some sort of magic in the world. Yes, I believe in Santa Claus like I believe in love.