Editorial: Christmas magic

One of the characters in “Closed for the Holidays,” the play recently produced by Acadia Community Theater, is a high school student who gets made fun of because she still believes in Santa Claus.

She gets something out of her belief, she argues, and it doesn’t do any harm. “Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it’s not real,” she argues. Her stubborn defense of the magic of the season is endearing, but she’s also onto something: It’s good for all of us, at any age, to have the capacity to feel wide-eyed wonder.

Leslie Rush, a high school teacher in El Paso, Texas, wrote about her family’s approach to the “Santa conversation” an online forum in 2006, according to the Washington Post, and ten years later her post went viral on Facebook.

“In our family, we have a special way of transitioning the kids from receiving from Santa, to becoming a Santa,” Rush wrote. “This way, the Santa construct is not a lie that gets discovered, but an unfolding series of good deeds and Christmas spirit.

“When they are six or seven, whenever you see that dawning suspicion that Santa may not be a material being, that means the child is ready.”

She took each of her children out ‘for coffee,’ and pointed out how much they have grown. “Not only are you taller, but I can see that your heart has grown, too.” She pointed out times she had seen them be empathetic, generous and considerate of others’ feelings. “In fact, your heart has grown so much that I think you are ready to become a Santa Claus.”

She then told each boy it was his mission to notice something someone not in their immediate family needed, get it for them, and leave it as an anonymous surprise. The children leapt at this opportunity, and they were beside themselves with excitement when the recipient found and enjoyed their “Santa” gift.

That excitement, that sense of imminent surprise, is a quality of youthfulness that’s available to all of us, from 8 to 18 to 81.

From all of us at the Islander to all of you, a very happy Winter Solstice and a very Merry Christmas! May you be delighted.

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