(Photo is from Raymond Brigg’s Father Christmas)
In the summer I was lucky enough to spend the weekend at a cabin on the edge of a lake with a couple of friends and at one point I happened to say: “You know what I’d do if I could do anything in the world?”
My friend said: “Be Santa.”
Which is an unlikely response, wouldn’t you say? And just goes to show how well they know me, because they were one hundred per cent correct. For a long time I’ve felt deeply envious of the man in the red suit and longed to hitch up Dasher and Dancer to the sleigh, which might be an uncommon aspiration for a twenty-something woman. Not to mention an impossible one.
So I wanted to reflect on this further: why exactly do I want to be Father Christmas? It’s not that I want to fly around the world in one night or live any closer to the North pole or even give presents to everyone in the world. I don’t want to do his job. I want to be Santa. I want to feel the way I imagine he would feel. I want to be jolly, wise, generous, and loving, to discover within myself a depth of wisdom and a deep-seated well-being and share it with others. To be so full of love that my arms overflow and the only logical solution is to give it away.
Maybe it’s the same reason retirement and old age appeal to me so much – it’s the idea of having already made it through the major battles of my life, passed the torch, and forged profound relationships, so all that’s left is to help the younger ones through their trials. It’s the idea of being a safe haven, someone people associate with comfort and refuge. I want to be someone people can tell all their secrets to, trust with their darkest shames and sharpest desires, not necessarily to get advice but just to have a soft place to fall. And I want to be able to receive everything with a loving smile, a warm hug, and a sincere wish for that person’s well-being, and then maybe we’ll eat some cookies after.
It’s possible I’m overstating Santa’s job description here, and even that retirement might be a bit of a let down for me after this. But I saw a lesson from someone I look up to that validated it for me. Gabby Bernstein said “Be unapologetic about how you want to feel.” Rather than think about what I want to do (which gets me nowhere and makes me stressed out) I get much clearer when I ask myself how I want to feel. I focus on that feeling so I’ll recognize it when it shows up, whatever external shape it takes. Then I ask God to point me towards whatever will help me achieve that feeling.
So here it goes: I want to feel like Santa. I want to be that loving, accepting energy that looks at others with so much compassion for the pain they’re in, and then smiles with a twinkle in his eye at all the good that is coming their way. I want to fill myself with love and wisdom, and then give it all away. I want to hand out joy and a feeling of belonging to everyone I encounter.
That’s what I want, and I’m not going to tone it down or apologize for it.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.