This is something that I wrote five years ago. I've been thinking about this idea again lately because of the "Santa Claus is white!" brouhaha -- if Santa is a spirit whose role we all take on, then he takes on every color of skin.
Happy holidays, y'all.
When I was a wee bitty lad, I - like most of my peers - believed in Santa Claus. I literally believed that there was a guy who lived at the North Pole, and had supernatural abilities, and showed up at our house (through the door, we having no chimney - I can remember asking my parents about this), and ate the cookies we left out, and left my brother and me a bunch of loot under the plastic tree.
Of course, I - like most of my peers - got over that. By the time I was seven or eight, certainly by age 10, I knew that of course there was no Santa. It was our parents! Liars who got their jollies by fooling little kids. A sad, even offensive, state of affairs.
But as I truly grew up, I saw that there was a still something to the "Christmas Spirit". Sure, there wasn't a magic guy with a flying sleigh, etcetera, but there was an aspect of the human experience, a generosity, that we could sensibly personify as the chubby fellow in red. Santa didn't live at North Pole, but in the human heart. Yes, Santa was our parents - humans incarnating a mythological role, each becoming for a moment here and there the avatar of that Christmas Spirit.
Now, when I was a wee bitty lad, I - like most of my peers - believed in God, specifically in the Catholic Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I literally believed that there was a magic guy (well, three guys, sort of, but really one) who lived outside the Universe in Heaven, that he/they had made the world, that he/they had come down and been born as a human 2,000 years ago, the works.
Of course, I - unlike most of my peers - got over that. By the time I was 13 I had rejected Catholic doctrine as a bunch of bunk, and by age 20 I called myself an atheist. Of course there were no gods.
But now, having grown up at least a little bit more, even though I will call myself an atheist in some contexts, I will call myself a pantheist in others. Just as I don't believe in a supernatural being at the North Pole who makes toys, I don't believe in supernatural beings in "Heaven" who made the Universe. But, just as I see a sort of "Christmas Spirit" in human experience and sometimes find it useful to hang the image of Old Saint Nick on that, so I know the mystical experience, and find it useful to hang the image of Pan or Dainichi Buddha or Aphrodite or Shiva or Eris (All hail Discordia!), or even once in a while that poor old carpenter Jeshua ben Joseph, on it. The gods and goddesses live not in some heavenly realm, but in our hearts and minds, in every aspect of human experience.
So, Merry Yule to all. I hope you get a nice chance to be Santa this year - and a nice chance to be god(dess) all the time.