One of the most horrible days of my life was the day I found out Santa wasn't real. True.
I was in grade three. The kids at school were talking about the fact that Santa wasn't real, and it hurt my heart. How could they talk so horribly about him? I defended him as best I could, but no one believed my testimony when I told them I KNEW Santa was real.
When I came home I talked to my mom about it. She had a funny look on her face, and I said, "He IS real, right???"
I still remember this as if it was yesterday. As if it was right now, even. She pulled me onto her lap at the kitchen table at the chair closest to the window, with my body angled to the southeast (see how well I remember?) and said, "Well….I like to think he's real."
GAH!!! She tore my heart out right then. I was absolutely devastated. You may think I'm kidding, but it was one of the most traumatic moments of my life. I believed in Santa just as strongly as I believed in Jesus. I loved him just as much as I loved Jesus. The effect wouldn't have been any different had she told me she made up the whole plan of salvation.
I told her then that I would NEVER be so cruel as to teach my children about Santa. She was sure I would outgrow it, but guess what - I DIDN'T! I never taught my children that Santa was real. We talk about the idea of Santa, but they've always known he's just a fun story we talk about at Christmas time. I believe there are more important things than a fake guy to focus on at Christmas, and I also don't really enjoy telling lies to the two little people I love most in the world. And so Santa has never been part of our life.
I also told my mom that Christmas was ruined. And it kind of was. Every year since then, and I'm talking about 25 years now, I've had a little to mid-sized ache in my heart at Christmas. I think I'm still mourning Santa. I believed in him, I loved him, I KNEW he was true, but yet he wasn't. I just really wanted it to be true. I still do. I want Santa to be real, but he isn't. That makes me sad.
So is my inability to ever fully get over it, or my sadness, or my mourning actually a spiritual confirmation that Santa is real after all?
I'm thinking then that when someone leaves their church because they've found for themselves that it isn't true either, but they feel sad about it and miss the time they believed, and they mourn the loss, it's a lot like how I feel about Santa. It's not the spirit telling them anything at all. It's just the normal feelings of loss.
If those feelings of loss made a grown adult who knows better still go around claiming to believe in Santa, that would be a mental illness of some sort. I'd have to get my DSM to figure it out, but it's definitely not a sign of a stable mind. Nor is claiming to believe in a church just because you enjoyed the time when you actually did believe. A person would have to stop thinking to do that, and that's one of the worst things a human being can do. I bet God doesn't like when we do that.
Can you imagine raising your kids to believe in something and then trying to find a way to tell them that now you don't believe in it? I mean other than Santa. I bet that would be really hard. I bet you'd feel like such an asshole.