Some people think of Santa Claus as the spirit of generosity. Others believe he’s real, but they tend to have their own definition of “real” when it comes to jolly old St. Nick.
How do you see Santa Claus? How does he connect to the holiday season, as you see it?
In the Opinion essay “Should We Believe in Santa Claus?” Eric Kaplan writes:
In 1897 the American Civil War correspondent and editor Francis Pharcellus Church wrote an editorial for the New York newspaper The Sun in defense of religious belief. The piece responded to a question by 8-year-old Virginia O. Hanlon and included what has become the famous catch phrase, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
Church’s argument is double-barreled. First he argues we have no way of knowing if Santa is really there. Even if we observed every chimney in the world, we wouldn’t know that Santa couldn’t slip through in some as yet undetected and untheorized manner. After all, we know today that both Church and Virginia had neutrinos passing through their bodies although neutrinos were far beyond the most advanced physics of their day. Maybe Santa’s like that. Further, just as the human stomach — unlike the termite’s — can’t digest wood, so there are some things our brains just aren’t capable of knowing. Maybe Santa is one of them.
But why does Church argue for making the leap to Santa belief, rather than standing pat with Santa agnosticism? Here Church brings in his second, pragmatic point. We should believe in Santa Claus because it will make our lives better if we do. Echoing Nietzsche’s defense of art, Church argues that we need poetry, romance and childlike faith to make life tolerable. Life without Santa is dreary and unromantic, and life with Santa is fun and magical. So we might as well believe in him. We also, according to Church, should believe in fairies dancing on the lawn, and an unseen world full of “supernal beauty and glory.”
… When it comes to Santa, some of us, like Virginia, have inherited him as a set of feelings, or images we love, or songs we sing, and it’s an option for us to move forward with him. In other words, we are not utility-maximizing agents trying to decide whether it’s worth it to believe in Santa. We come to be a self by the things we say, the relationships we form, and the goals we shoot for. If these are Santa-ish things, relationships and goals, then it makes sense to say we are coming to be ourselves as believers in Santa.
You could say that the self is a gift we have received from our language, our history, our biology, our culture and our family, and like a gift it is defined not by what it is but by how we use it and the quality of the relationships it brings. If we receive the gift of our self with gratitude and hand it on to others with generosity, we are not just believing in Santa, we’re being Santa-like.
Are we faking it till we make it? Is Santa a lie Church told Virginia to make her and himself feel better, or were the two of them taking a step together into his as yet unseen world?
You might as well ask if we’re naughty or nice.
Students: Read the entire article, then tell us…
— What do you make of Eric Kaplan’s assertion that Santa’s existence could be beyond human understanding, and therefore worth believing in?
— How do you interpret the idea put forth by Francis Pharcellus Church that believing in Santa Claus will make our lives better, beyond the assumption that it will lead to more gifts for the believer?
— Do you think children should believe in Santa? What about adults? Explain.
— Mr. Kaplan quotes Church as saying people “need poetry, romance and childlike faith to make life tolerable.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
— What examples can you give that illustrate Mr. Kaplan’s definition of “self”?
— Do you agree that we are Santa-like when “we receive the gift of our self with gratitude and hand it on to others with generosity”? Why or why not?
Questions about issues in the news for students 13 and older.
Essay about Santa Claus Does Exist
890 Words4 Pages
Santa Claus Does Exist
So you don’t believe in Santa Claus. It’s understandable. We find ourselves in an age of pure skepticism. We question everything. Science has taken hold of our lives, providing answers for all questions and dismissing anything that cannot be explained as either myth or fiction. So it’s quite understandable why you don’t believe, with no physical proof of his existence. It’s indeed understandable to lose sight of Father Christmas with the transformation of this holiday into one that, as of late, is used commercially as a lucrative crutch solely to make profit. It’s understandable to abandon Santa Claus after hearing countless people deny his very physical or even spiritual existence. After all, one tends to…show more content…
With the wreaths and Yule logs that come standard with this holiday comes a caring from deep in the hearts of people unbeknownst to them at any other time of the year. At the sight of the Christmas decor and the flames roaring at the hearth, a warmth envelops the heart, one with which no flame, however hot, could compete. We see in our gift-wrap and our greeting cards and our holiday stockings an entirely new persona occupying this world we live in, reprieving us from the daily heartaches we all know as familiar.
Santa Claus must exist. How else would you describe this change in the way humans interact during these otherwise dreary winter months? Santa Claus is the catalyst of human goodness, sparking within us a genuine care for our neighbor, bringing us together for this wonderful season. Think of a world without Santa Claus!
While your intelligence is gnawing at the lack of proof (the absent shred of red cloth torn by the fireplace or the nonexistent cookie crumbs leading from the tree up the chimney), I believe even still, just as millions upon millions believe in some type of god. As you deny Santa Claus on the grounds of no proof, I accept him on those same grounds. Who are we to deny something we cannot understand and therefore cannot explain? No amount of persuasion can convince me that Santa Claus does not exist through people who celebrate Christmas, just as Christians believe Jesus exists through them today,