Santa Claws at our Beliefs
Have you ever wondered how Santa was created and selected for the symbol of Christ's birthday? How does Santa relate to Christianity? The message and meaning of Christmas has always been muddled and mixed in my mind.
In my youth Christmas day seemed mostly to honoring family. Though I grew up in a Maryland Eastern Shore Quaker family, it never felt clearly explained or embraced how Santa was related or connected to Jesus. Maybe an explanation was impossible because at that time the significance of this year-end holiday had already morphed into a more economic entity. The confusion was part of society accepting without questioning. No viable answers meant no understanding to me.
Growing up, I could never quite reconcile the correlation between the two.... even the fact that birthday celebrations were also about presents and gifts. To my gullible mind what seemed even more puzzling was how Sanata could possibly forsake his sleigh and reindeer for a sailboat. Yet as a lifelong sailor, I totally accepted his nautical transportation choice. In fact, a sailboat made much more sense than a sled lead by some flying caribou. And one with a red nose? And he was all about giving based on naughty or nice. NAUTIcal then made some sense in an absurd world.
In a Christmas blog post from two years ago, I wrote about the sea's givings and takings. Throughout my writings I have often pointed out, explored, and at times, even examined what is real and what is imagined. My writings explore what is unusual, unfair, ridiculous, absurd or plainly different. I usually attempt to bring attention to peculiarities while making some sensical semblance of them. My ultimate goal is to allow readers to make their own judgments or opinions. I am but one voice.
My musings are usually what seems right, wrong or wacko to me. Mostly I'm simply sharing my perspective and my limited individual truth. Mostly, I recognize my view is suspect as I have been either right or way off quite often. That being said...While I don't mind inserting an occasional opinion or two into my bloggery, I am conscious enough to know people often believe whatever they want to believe even if their other sensibilities and good sense seem to indicate otherwise. Truth denial has been an art form for centuries - a skill honed from centuries of making up shit to match Consequently my experience has often lead me to believe people see what they want to see. Sometimes they even hear what they want. Smell and touch not so much! If something smells shitty, most people agree. Whether they will admit or confess to a similar experience is another issue. But the hypocrisy of Christmas celebration is still too sensitive and confusing a topic to clarify for the masses.
Do people even listen to really what is being said or what they themselves are really communicating? Staying with the "corporate line" or the mainstream even if reality and truth collide, some delude themselves in their thinking they are safer. This phenomenon is never more evident than around holidays and celebrations. Wow, do we ever create some incredible tales! Even more surprisingly propagate, promote and profit from them as we have for centuries! Nothing like an exaggerated story to entertain the masses.
Have you ever wanted something to be true so much you imagined its coming true? We are all pretty much conspiratorial in our cravings. An afterlife, world peace, freedom, family harmony, prosperity, joy and hedonistic pleasure are just a few ideals near the top of our wish lists. In our pursuit of these desired un-attainables, we often suspend and/or escape reality. Look how millions of us flock to television, movies, theatrical productions and literature. Fables, myths, legends, folk tales, satire, fiction, yarns, sagas and, of course, fairy tales. We are all suckers for a good story, and we all want in some way for our own story to be one of them. After all, we are all the protagonist in our own personal tale! And humans love telling their own story ad nauseum.
When some idea, action, belief, concept, gesture or behavior doesn't ring quite true, most of us either consciously or unconsciously rationalize and consequently tweak our version of reality. If we didn't, all of us would conclude we are living untruths....lies!? And we can't have that can we?
Our well-being, sanity and survival depend upon our having a story that explains our existence, history, plight, and/or purpose. Of course, happy endings are quite popular with human drama. However, it is a well known, but frequently denied fact that happy endings are never guaranteed. They are pure fairy tales. We all do die in the end. But there are, for example, always global warming or the Holocaust naysayers who prefer their own take on things.
People can't always live in that realm of realistic unreliability. They can, of course, live and breath in their own fantasy for awhile. But the lie usually catches up to them. I have always wondered what happens to childrens' trust and confidence in the world when the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Super Man, Bat Man, Wonder Woman video games, Barbie and Ken, Disney characters and millions more are discovered to be fictitious figments of adult imaginations. Is this where teenagers start to question authority and rebel. Can anyone blame them?
I remember my father defending Richard Nixon with the rationalization that no President would ever commit a crime. Or how about Presidents Bill Clinton or JFK as faithful husbands? And the wake-up calls that even our leaders are fallible, flawed humans started to appear. The tarnished image of Camelot became Camelost.
What transformation happens to us when we are asked to tell the truth after realizing our adults have been pulling the wool over their eyes since the beginning of time? Do we all simply buy into the lie or become cynical and distrusting? Or do we all learn to tell our own truth...our own unique tale with reality or exaggeration or distortion mixed in?
Whether or not we can be honest with ourselves, determines our reality. And some of us learn the truth and an individual's reality are rarely the same. We all possess our own versions. We often have to have a unique take on events so we can feel good about ourselves. Ever compare history books from opposing nations? That's an interesting exercise. Alternative realities in contrast to the real reality. All one need do is either listen to the news, study cultural mythologies, watch commercials, study various countries' histories or follow any countries' politics.
Ever watch the Daily Show or the Colbert Report or Fox News? Most discerning intelligent people can decipher between what is true and honest. That is what makes these shows so funny. Some of them make fun of the absurd while others attempt to make the absurd seem real. The former are satire while the other flouts and flaunts falsehoods. All entertain, but some masquerade while others distort and mislead. Their accompanying packaged stories usually mix some wishful thinking with attitude, energy and explanation to sway audiences.
Cultural myths are classic examples of "telltales" with a slant as Emily Dickinson so poetically wrote above. The truth is often difficult to tell honestly. Even when individual perspectives have totally different world views, we all like to envision others somehow embracing our reality. Some people do like like-mindedness while others prefer diversity of opinions and perspective. After all, we all crave some validation and some acknowledgement in our lives. But we learn to accept the deception if we can see it, but even then we still yearn for others to see life with similar slanted and tinted spectacles. None of us like being totally alone all the time with our thoughts. Certainly believing in sea tales and myths takes some give-and-take. So, why not give us humans a break and take us with a grain a salt?
I realize people's perspectives (including my own) often have to fit personal reality. Our sanity is, otherwise, at stake. That collective tendency to make it all make sense even when it doesn't, may briefly suggest why our views of Santa, for example, have to be so "sanitized" or so thoroughly washed clean of many negative associations. While many can probably understand Santa's connection to economic well-being and how his existence pacifies the masses, most don't worry about the hypocrisy or the charade. They simply follow the wave of traditions and stories.
Of course, not everyone is onboard. Some people still view Santa as a Christian celebration with ulterior motives or even as a Satanic ritual. While others may see it as just another holiday or another more rewarding way to celebrate their own religious leanings, some celebrate both or not at all. Nevertheless, Santa and all his trimmings and trappings still represent a spirit of fun and fellowship most of us are attracted to. And there are those who have no interest in participating in any of the charade or circumstance. While our world view is thus often-tainted by our own unique perceptions, experiences, prejudices, we humans still perpetuate the illusion-filled realities because our need for fantasies are so strong. No matter what, Christmas is certainly an extended Thanksgiving in America...another period of unconditional giving and receiving to and for family, friends and fellow mankind. And Christmas is mostly for the kids if not for our inner child... Isn't it? You decide.
Glasgow, Scotland's Santa-rade arrival (revival?) - I should mention, while I love the concept of Santa as a saintly character and the spiritual intentionality he engenders, I am a skeptical of most of the artifice and artificiality. Even so, I still am fascinated how many fabrications and fantasies humans create and perpetuate. It almost seems as if they matter more than reality and truth. After all, industry, economics and religion are so involved and interwoven into keeping the mythical magical alive and vibrant, few people really say "humbug." So, for no real rhyme, religious or righteous reason in this sea and season of wrapping/unwrapping our minds, presents and beliefs, I wish good tidings, dockings, deckings, decoratings and believings to all that may read these lines.
Santa and King Neptune smoking a cigar with a school of fish-hatted followers. The story behind this float-illa?
Finally, in my researching this topic, I found some fascinating comparisons - especially how some religious, some scholarly, some pseudo-intellectuals defend one perspective while debunking another. Here are some articles & stories I discovered with Santa's being compared to others (real and imagined?). Even one with Santa being compared to Santa.
Our imagination is endless. We are, after all, all creators of our reality. And our imaginations are boundless as the sea of thoughts and the stars above. So why not share some other possible salty scenarios for Santas....?
Wouldn't Santa's arrival be more spectacular if he sailed a Hobi-Cat?
Now he is....or is he just going home after his big day?
Boats "decked out"with lights of seasonal celebration and wonder
Santa ringing the ship's Xmas bell signaling the start of the frostbiting season!
Santa's wintery watery arrival? ...or coiling a line?..or tying one on?
Ah, Santa's sleigh is a water board.
Do reindeer have flippers or webbed hoofs?
What could be more relaxing after a long night of sooty chimneys?
And then there is THE AUSPICIOUS DINGHY ARRIVAL of SAINT (?) NICK
Santa aboard a boat whose name "Shiloh" means abundance and peace.
Why not Santa as a pirate? A pirate as a giver???
Why not, everything else is fiction!
I may have some misgivings about the mistakings of who and what Santa is to me. But that does not mean I am totally cynical about the holiday season. Christmas fantasy may have a capitalistic tint to it, but it does bring joy and and good tiding to many people. But like any celebration, there are those whose truth is difficult to celebrate. Finding the lining that brings happiness to one's heart seems vital to keep one's spirit alive and well.
Happy Tidings to you...especially if you have trekked through this post and have made it to this final sentence.