Do you remember when Christmas stopped feeling like Christmas? When it stopped being magical and started being ordinary? When one day the inexplicable and incredible had a logical explanation? It probably lined up with the time you started getting more presents from Mom and Dad and less from Santa, or started sitting at the grown-up table, or started asking for things like socks and gas money on your list. Suddenly the world became smaller, less mysterious.
For a while, though, that was not the case. I know that there was a time in my life when I believed anything was possible. Nothing proved this more to me than Christmas. You say it is impossible for reindeer to fly and having glowing noses? Well I saw a red light in the sky on Christmas Eve. You say it is impossible for one man to traverse the globe in one night? Well NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) tracks Santa’s progress at noradsanta.org. You say it is impossible for anyone to live at the North Pole? Well I have been there.
And then I grew up and realized that Grandpa went out on the deck with a laser pointer that one year, that the people at NORAD are, naturally, very clever with computers and that the “North Pole” is in fact an amusement park 45 minutes away.
No matter how disappointing it is when reality hits, the tradition of the magic of Christmas is still preserved and passed down to later generations. Look at the lengths adults have gone to! From my grandpa braving the elements with his red light, to the United States government expending resources and personnel to “track” Santa, to the mall Santas and Christmas shops throughout the country, people prove each year the lengths they will go to keep the magic alive.
Why? A cynic will tell you it is because of profit margins and the resulting consumerism. A conspiracy theorist will tell you it is a broad brainwashing agenda to lull the American populace into false complacency. I, however, being my grandfather’s grandchild, say that it is because we recognize that the world needs a little more faith.
Isn’t that what Christmas teaches us? Long before I could comprehend the agony of the Crucifixion and the triumph of the Resurrection, long before I beheld the beauty of the Eucharist and the majesty of the Mass, long before I understood the nature of my faith, I believed in Santa Claus. I believed in magic. I believed in anything.
Ours is a broken world — a world where, for instance, unarmed citizens are dying at the hands of law enforcement, rioters destroy their own hometowns in reaction and the government and the people regard each other with distrust and derision.
However, just maybe, a little bit of faith could help us through it — faith that the people walking down the street are indeed just human beings walking down the street, trying to get by, trying to live life just like we are. Let’s have faith in each other, at least just for Christmas.