Christmas season – trees are up, decorations everywhere, and schools have carols and Nativity plays.
“Dad?” asked my eight year old son, “Boys at school say that Santa is just you.”
“Well, the parents, I mean. Santa is not real. Is he? It’s just the parents pretending”
“Do you know what Santa looks like?” I asked him back.
“Yes, he’s big and round, and he’s got a big white beard and a red suit with a black belt.”
“Well, then. If you know what he looks like, then he must be real.”
“OK, OK. The answer is actually simple: If you believe – if you really believe in Santa, then he exists – he’s real.”
“What happens if you don’t believe in Santa, Dad?”
“If you stop believing in Santa, or if you’ve never believed in Santa, or if you’ve never even heard of Santa – then, of course, there’s no Santa for you. For you He doesn’t exist, He’s not real, but as long as you really believe in him, He’s real”.
“What happens if I don’t believe in Santa, Dad?”
“Then you won’t get gifts from Santa any more, just from me – and mum and everyone else, just none from Santa.”
Now, I didn’t tell him (yet), but this truth is not restricted to the belief in Santa; it equally well applies to Jesus, Mohammed, Ra, Jehovah and God in general, whatever name is used.
For those who believe, Jesus/Mohammed is real, but for those who do not or no longer believe, He’s nothing special to them.
This is not an argument against belief, nor is it one for it. The simplest truth that underpins all faith, is the sincere belief, the honest belief in something, and when that falters and goes, it is gone.
I look around at decorations and images of Santa everywhere. How can it be that He doesn’t exist? How is it possible that all the rational adults have colluded together to pretend – to lie – about the existence (and even the appearance) of Santa Claus? Why would this happen? What lesson could it give to children if Santa was made up? That their parents have lied, and everyone – even Hollywood – has helped?
No. That would be unacceptable; Santa, and belief in Santa, Christmas and all religions has to be respected.
Equally, though, when and if someone no longer really believes, then “pop” it is all over, and He vanishes for them – but not for everyone else, they must be allowed to continue to believe and to receive the gifts for being good boys and girls.