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December 24, 2018- by Steven E. Greer
I grew up in a strange family. On one hand, my parents were the best at supporting us five kids in school, throughout college. On the other hand, they left a lot to be desired.
One tradition that they fought hard to maintain into their old age was Christmas. Until recently, they would still put up a tree and buy gifts for their grown children.
As a child, I have few fond memories. But I was a Santa Claus cult worshiper. I loved the process of studying the gifts under the tree before Christmas. On the morning of Christmas, my parents played Santa Claus and revealed unwrapped large items. These were the main entrees.
I have been estranged from my family for many years. I was planning on having my usual holiday activities, which is nothing. I ignore all holidays.
However, a few days ago, I got a surprise call from my mother. I knew it was bad news. I answered by asking, “Who died?”
My father had suffered a GI bleed due to aspirin he was taking for knee pain. He was in a small rural hospital and was not getting the best possible care. I had to step in and become the primary care doctor as well as the GI specialist.
There was a bit of a Christmas miracle. His hemoglobin level had made a sudden drop and we were prepared to transfer him to a larger hospital. But it was an erroneous blood draw. He was fine and we sent him home instead.
Later in the evening as I was preparing to leave their home, I noticed that my parents had almost no Christmas decorations. I had never seen that before. It was like that lame Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
Both of my parents have ailments that make it too hard for them to walk through large shopping malls. So, they gave up on the Christmas tradition.
This struck me. It was part of my childhood, part of my heritage. I had to fix this.
Fortunately, my parents were on the mend and now able to get around. We bought some gifts to wrap, just symbolically. Santa Claus must live, I thought. There shall be no Year Without a Santa Claus as long as I am living.
Then, it occurred to me. Santa Claus is not a prank played on kids. The joke is on the parents. Santa Claus is for them. Sure. The kids get a sugar rush from the gifts, but the more important benefit is to the adults.
Santa Claus is real, literally and metaphorically. Adults play Santa for real. The actors at Macy’s playing Santa are real. Spiritually, Santa Claus and the rituals of Christmas, although new creations on the 20th Century and have nothing to do with Christianity, are real too.