Yes, Christie, There is a Santa Claus

by christie shumate mcelwee

Dear Editor: Many of my friends say there isn’t a Santa Claus because 2020 has been the worst year ever. Please tell me the truth. How can Santa exist after this horrendous year?

Sincerely,

Christie

Christie, your friends appear to be skeptical, which is understandable after the year we have experienced. An insidious virus, a racial reckoning, and an combustable political climate have created a terrifying vortex and every aspect has seeped into our consciousness. We’ve been stuck in the eye of the hurricane for months now, watching scraps from our previous world blasted away.

But, Christie, there is hope, and hope IS Santa Claus. He comes in many forms, from Hallmark movies to twinkle lights, but 2020’s Santa Claus is more than a jolly elf dressed in red. Santa has manifested himself in the hearts of all who believe in love and courage and goodness.

Santa is in the scientists who worked to create safe and effective vaccines, and in everyone who is involved in the shipping, distribution, and inoculation process of said vaccines so we can eventually hug one another without fear.

Santa is in everyone who has donated to a favorite charity or ordered takeout from a local restaurant or supported a small business.

Santa is in all the millions who either mailed in their ballots or waited hours in line on November 3 to preserve our precious (and fragile) democracy.

Santa is in all who wear masks, knowing it is the decent thing to do in order to keep us all safe.

Santa is in all who smile through those masks, who are kind to retail and food service workers, who tip generously, and who spread love instead of animosity and discord.

Santa is in all the exhausted educators who have been there in person and virtually for their students since March. 

Santa is in all the delivery workers, especially those who work for the US Postal Service. You carry hope in every letter and package you deliver.

Santa is in the courage and dedication of health care workers, those on the front lines of this pandemic.

Santa is in all the artists who have entertained us throughout 2020: the musicians, the writers, the actors, the poets, the TikTokers, the YouTubers.

Santa is in all who forgive more than accuse, give more than grab, understand more than judge. 

So, Christie, there is a Santa Claus! He will live on in our hearts forever, and years from now when we look back on these dark days, we will know that Santa still exists because he continues to spread hope and generosity and magic to all who believe.

No Santa Claus! Thanks God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

Frances P. Church, editor of The New York Sun, published September 21, 1897

Asking Questions

“A civilization is not destroyed by wicked people; it is not necessary that people be wicked but only that they be spineless.” James Baldwin, The First Next Time

“I have no idea what’s awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing.” – Albert Camus, The Plague

“There is no dignity in wickedness, whether in purple or rages; and hell is a democracy of devils, where all are equal.” – Herman Melville

How do we navigate the struggles in this world? Where do we gather the strength to battle the demons that inhabit society? Who do we turn to when our hearts are cracked wide open? How do we fix the broken light in the deep darkness of our souls? What gives us the courage to confront evil? Are we all so mangled in the mire that we can’t see beyond our own shores?

What if we bravely walked beyond the smashed glass, opened our hearts, expanded our minds, and looked past our egos? Could we offer dignity where we see indecency? Empathy instead of judgement? Grace in place of neglect? Kindness rather than hatred? Compassion, not cruelty?

Could we live, thrive, love, feed, embrace, and love with rapture? Or is the world too harsh, too cruel, too mean, too small, too evil? Do we accept defeat? Or do we scream into the wind, summoning strength for another battle?

What if today we decided to support dignity, breathe empathy, enfold grace, grasp kindness, and devour compassion? How would the world around us react to such behavior? Would it cower? Would it laugh? Or perhaps, it would blink in surprise? And what if the world then began to mimic our words, our acts, our hearts?

Dignity is an elevation of character, a worthiness in the world. We all deserve dignity, yet with every hateful epithet, dignity is lessened. Humans should be able to walk through life with pride.

Dignity is our inalienable right.

Empathy is seeing the troubles of others. It is identifying with their misery and wanting to alleviate it.

Empathy is our hearts bursting from our chests, exposing our salty tears.

Grace is the possession of mercy, goodwill, and honor. It is how we conduct our lives, our place at the table, inviting others to join us.

Grace is our truth.

Kindness is our behavior. It is a smile, a gesture, an open door, a generous tip. Our hearts reach out to grab others with love. It is courage wrapped in a whisper of silk.

Kindness is omnipotent.

Compassion is deep sympathy. It is our tenderness. It is our hearts, full and accepting. We feel others hurt. We acknowledge their pain. We sit with their sorrow. We respect their troubles.

Compassion is our humanness. 

So what if today we opened our doors to difficult truths? Listened to others? Held each other in solidarity? Tasted bitterness, yet still accepted the food? And lit a candle to wipe away the gloom?

What if for just today we saw dignity in each other, empathized with the downtrodden, walked in grace, spread kindness, and felt compassion for all suffering?

Could we change the world?

“Without dignity, identity is erased.” ― Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken

“Nothing is more important than empathy for another human being’s suffering. Nothing. Not a career, not wealth, not intelligence, certainly not status. We have to feel for one another if we’re going to survive with dignity.” – Audrey Hepburn

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” – Anne Lamott

“Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.”  -Og Mandino

“There never was any heart truly great and generous, that was not also tender and compassionate.” – Robert Frost

Featured

“We Are How We Treat Each Other and Nothing More”

To be humble, to be kind.
It is the giving of the peace in your mind.
To a stranger, To a friend
To give in such a way that has no end.
We are Love
We are One
We are how we treat each other when the day is done.
We are peace
We are War
We are how we treat each other and Nothing More.

— “Nothing More” ~ The Alternate Routes

What has happened to civility? To kindness? To respect? If you read and watch the news, you would think we have lost our collective minds. We are bombarded daily with hate speech and deplorable behavior. Where is the kindness? Where is the love? Where is the sanity?

How do we combat all of this? How do we get through the day? Do we scream back or remain complacently silent? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m exhausted. My heart is tired, but not yet broken. You see, I still have hope. In this turbulent world we each possess the ability to spread kindness, even in the midst of chaos. How do we hold onto this desire for a more benevolent existence in the face of such bitterness and horror?

I believe it is still possible to spread simple kindness every day. Smile at a stranger. Send a love letter to a friend. Bake something sweet for someone struggling. Hate cannot spread where love is present. Fight for justice. Speak your mind with logic, facts, and decorum. Believe in peace. Be a fierce warrior fighting the honorable fight because goodness is always on the right side of history.

I challenge you to spread light today, because as the song says, “To be bold, to be brave. It is the thinking that the heart can still be saved.” Author Elizabeth Berg wrote on her Facebook page about what makes a coward and what makes a person with courage. She wrote, “Probably people with courage don’t bow out of life or hide from it. Probably they find some resolve within and live in the best way they know how wherever they are, and find like-minded individuals with whom they can ride out the storms. Probably they endeavor to pay attention to their highest and best selves and minimize the coyote in them that suggests darker ways.” Don’t feed the evil coyote that lives within. Nurture the one that wants to live in love and light.

“We are how we treat each other and nothing more.”

If you need inspiration, check out the following:

“100 Ways to Be Kinder” at http://www.virtuesforlife.com/100-ways-to-be-kinder/ 

“5 Incredibly Easy Ways to Spread Kindness, Every Day” at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/14/random-acts-of-kindness-give-back_n_6101940.html

http://www.newtownkindness.org

SpreadKindness.org

or just Google “Spreading Kindness.”