When we are children, we talk about Father Christmas. Who is he? A sacred being? A god? A real person? A figment of our fertile imaginations? Contrary to many varying – and sometimes quite outrageous – suggestions, it is most likely that this figure of sacred folk memory has evolved out of an amalgamation of northern deities such as the god, Odin, and the Wild Man of the Boreal Forest of Eastern Europe.
Knowing what incredible effects the sheer power of thought can have upon creative energy, I am very willing to accept that the mass consciousness of humanity has by now very possibly actually created Father Christmas or Santa Claus. (We should all be very careful what we think! Our kindly and benign festive old elf is lovely, but not some of the other monsters we niaevley give credence to.)
As we become adults, we begin to refer to the ‘Spirit of Christmas’. What is that? And how does it differ from Father Christmas or Santa Claus? We can only offer suggestions and suppositions but my theory is that it is the same positive energy responsible for forming the archetypal winter spirit of Father Christmas… and we each carry it in our hearts. It is the winter manifestation of unconditional love – that which prompts so many to give in to the generous side of their nature or even behave quite out of character at Christmas, to at least seek temporary peace and lay down arms and arguments (as the soldiers in the trenches of World War One so touchingly demonstrated), to give greetings and gifts, jollity and good thoughts in a manner and quantity which would not occur at any other time of the year.
The Spirit of Christmas can be seen as the grown up interpretation of Father Christmas. It is what prompts us to selfless acts of service and kindness. It shines through in every action and effort to give others surprises, pleasure and excitement. It is especially at work as parents/families labour to produce a few seasonal extras for their loved ones (especially the children) at this time of year. Excruciatingly, this year more people than ever are going to struggle to produce even the basic celebration and ‘extras’.
I have heard it asked why people can’t behave in such a friendly generous manner all the time? Why can’t it be Christmas all year round? The simple answer is that it can. Jesus tried to teach us that the answer to everything is ‘Love’ – and by this he meant unconditional love… and it IS the answer to everything… absolutely NO ‘buts’! I have no idea which came first, the impetus to loving generousity or the energy with which to produce it, but it is very real and is not limited to a few days or weeks around the time of Midwinter. It is available ALL year round and living by a ‘Christmas code’ of loving forgiveness, compassion, understanding, tolerance, friendship and peace is possible to do in any season.
It is all based on what we habitually nurture and hold in our hearts – that old fashioned term ‘charity’ which does not just mean giving something for nothing but is based on second chances, open-heartedness, open-handedness and a generosity of spirit and manner. It is giving all and everyone the benefit of the doubt and wiping the slate clean. It is freedom to move on, begin and again and achieve something better in the future. We all need to receive these precious gifts… and we are all more than capable of bestowing them on each other. Why wait till Christmas?
The Spirit of Christmas is a frame of mind and a whole way of life – an emotional and mental state which we can allow into our minds and hearts and give free rein to all year round. And if people think that you are a little sentimental or odd, let them. I can think of far worse things to be accused of! The wondrous actions and magical outcome of what happens at Christmas can be introduced throughout the whole year, if you allow it to.
So, put on your metaphorical ‘Santa’s suit’ and go and play at delivering Christmas surprises. They might only be smiles, compliments, kindly comments or a helping hand, but they are magical Christmas gifts just as surely as anything that was ever delivered down a chimney by a red-coated, chubby old chap. More importantly, they are imbued with true Christmas Spirit, identical to that magical formula which formed Father Christmas in the first place.
Make yourself a very merry Christmas!