i really wanted to respond to this last night when i read it, for a number of reasons. i wrote my college essays in high school about my feelings about santa claus.
i love santa. i love santa even better now that i know he's not a real person delivering toys in a magical sleigh. i could never identify with magic. he became more magical to me once i was "let in on the secret," so to speak.
as a child, there was a radio beacon outside my bedroom window. every christmas, i would go to the window to watch for santa, and i believed the light was the nose of a certain reindeer who will remain nameless.
when i was eight or nine, my parents let me in on it. kids had told me santa didn't exist before, but i believed. i had relatives who worked at the sun when the famous virginia letter was printed, and i was very proud of that fact.
after my parents told me, i still believed. my belief in santa grew stronger, if anything. because here are these people, giving gifts, without want of thanks, without identifying themselves as the givers, with no wish but to see delight upon the face of a loved one. and there is this construct that is so enormous within our world, the huge collective belief that there COULD be a person out there who would give selflessly, for no other reason than to see children happy. and yes, it's done through material items, yes, it's led to a lot of commercialization, but it's done for love. and for little kids, toys very much embody love. toys are the thing you have, that YOU take care of, the thing that you can love and protect and stand defiantly for, even if adults often see a child's protectiveness of toys as the onset of spoiled brat-dom, to a child, toys ARE the children, and children have to be protective of them.
i buy a lot of stuff at christmastme. i love buying gifts. i don't care if the people i get them for get me anything in return, because that's not what christmas is. santa doesn't get presents. santa gives presents. i wish i could buy a toy for every single kid in the world, and i think that's a lot about what christmas is about-- a wish to take care of our own, a wish to take care of the world. jesus supposedly did that, and it doesn't really matter whether you believe that. santa takes care of us, too, albeit with material goods, and maybe things we don't really need. but sometimes we need things we don't need. i worked for a group called film aid for a while, they bring first- and second- run movies to refugee camps and show them on the big screen. we got a lot of shit from people who would tell us we should be working on getting them food, clothes, medicines. but i think things you don't need-- toys, presents, movies-- are often the things that most make a person feel like a person, and make a person feel like people care about them, and love them. even if the love is coming from someone you don't know-- a volunteer sitting in an office arranging a projection of a movie, or maybe a man in a red suit.