Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why Believing In Santa Claus Is Essential To Your Health

When it came to believing in Santa Claus, I was one of the last holdouts.  There was nothing more exciting than going to bed on Christmas Eve and waking up to find a bunch of wrapped presents under my tree that were delivered by Santa Claus and his reindeer in the middle of the night.  On the big night, we had a tradition in my family where one of my parents or my older brother would read "The Night Before Christmas" as my bedtime story.  The book had a big colorful illustration of Santa right on the cover.  Little did I know that out of the four of us, I was the only one who still actually believed that Santa really would be visiting our house in just a matter of hours exactly as the book said.

When I was in first grade, one of my classmates, Scott, told me that there wasn't any such thing as Santa Claus.  I still remember his exact words:  "You REALLY think that a fat man wearing a red suit who has a long, white beard slides down your chimney in the middle of the night to deliver you presents every Christmas? You REALLY think such a thing is possible?"  It was the middle of December, and I knew that Scott had already been getting one gift every day for several days, all leading up to the big present he would receive on Hanukkah, which didn't seem like a bad deal to me, so obviously, he didn't need to believe in Santa Claus!  He celebrated Hanukkah, and I celebrated Christmas.  Of COURSE there was such a thing as Santa Claus!

When you're a kid, you have many dreams and fantasies of how your life is going to be when you grow up, and there are many things you can believe in if you let your imagination run wild.  When I was a kid, I thought for sure I'd be a famous actress by now, living in a mansion in Hollywood.  Seems like my dream was a near impossible one, but it reminds me of that quote from "Alice in Wonderland's Through The Looking Glass" where Alice laughs at the White Queen, and says, "There's no use can't believe impossible things." The White Queen disagrees and responds: "I daresay you haven't had much practice...When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."  Even though I no longer desire to be a Hollywood actress, I would like to believe that I got so much practice believing in things when I was a child, that I still haven't completely lost my ability to believe in impossible things.

My friend, Tara, once told me that people who are severely depressed have often lost their ability to fantasize and dream and are no longer able to lose themselves in their imagination, and that this is what ultimately leads many of them into feelings of hopelessness and despair.  It makes sense to me because when things get tough, you need to escape into an imaginary world to allow yourself some much-needed respite. If someone has lost his or her ability to escape, then the world and its problems become too much, and he or she can never escape reality or the pain of unpleasant things.  As we get older and more realistic, it becomes even more important to never lose that ability to fantasize and to believe in "impossible things."

So even if you don't believe in Santa Claus anymore and have decided against "crazy" goals such as moving to Hollywood to become a famous actress, it is still important to believe in some near impossible things, for instance, ideas that you can become "The Thinking Man's Danielle Steel" or that someday you MAY even be able to retire!  Scott will definitely be able to retire.  He is a very successful corporate attorney.  But for his sake and sanity, I REALLY hope he hasn't lost his ability to fantasize.

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