Yes, Boston College, There Is A Santa Claus
Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
We hang our stockings on the fiscal cliff, as mindful of the partisan gridlock as the holiday traffic. And so long as cleanup from Hurricane Sandy is still underway, the Christmas tree might not be the only tree in the living room. It’s hard to find faith in anything besides the headlines. It’s hard to find importance in anything outside the day-to-day. We have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age, but when life is so hopelessly entangled in the temporary, it becomes all the more important to recognize what will forever be true.
Yes, Boston College, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as Chobani and the Plex exist, the things in which we derive the highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary our lives would be if there were nothing greater than nights at the Mods (and for some, mornings in the infirmary). We love most things because they are specific to us—specific to our generation (e.g. Snapchat) or specific to where we’re from (i.e. Vineyard Vines). However, far be it from me to claim Christmas is specific to Chestnut Hill’s 18-22 demographic, or to anyone anywhere for that matter. To our grandparents, it was Frank Sinatra. To our parents, it was Bruce Springsteen. To us, it’s Michael Bublé—but who am I to argue who sang “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” best? Christmas music is a strange phenomenon. What other genre so readily repeats itself? What other art form so easily claims the human heart?
It strikes me how so much has been overturned while Christmas stays intact. Of course, I’ve heard the complaints—Christmas has changed, it’s far more secular, it’s maligned by consumerism, it’s just not what it used to be. It’s the same people who are offended that the news gets published online, but I’d like to argue they can still get newspapers delivered to their door.
The beauty of Christmas is that it can be so universal, while still allowing us to celebrate it the way we want. For me, as a lifelong Catholic, Christmas is about the birth of Christ, setting up a Nativity set in my dining room, and going to midnight mass. However, to claim it’s nothing else to me is simply untrue. It means going home, getting a little out-of-hand with lights in my front yard, and drinking Chipwich Eggnog with dinner (and every other meal for that matter...for at least three weeks). For my non-Christian friends, it’s an entirely different tradition, equally as nuanced, equally as relevant to what matters most to them, even if that means not celebrating it at all.
Santa Claus exists. He exists in movies: I’ve seen him in Elf, and I’ve seen him in Miracle on 34th Street (any discrepancy in his portrayal is surely a result of studio pressure). He exists on Pandora’s Christmas playlists, just as he existed on vinyl records decades ago. On Capitol Hill, the arrival of budgetary compromise is entirely uncertain, but December 25th surely will come. In homes across the country, the same Santa Claus is expected by the 99 percent and the one percent. Uncle Sam may take from us unfairly at times, but Santa Claus eats everyone’s cookies.
Nietzsche would argue Santa Claus too must die; someday we will kill him. But how does something die when it’s continually reborn? I’m talking about more than just the way Tim Allen was reborn in The Santa Clause. See, hope is a pervasive force, and I’d reckon Santa Claus is too. He’s reborn in every generation: in movies, in music, on TV, in shopping malls, on city streets, in opera halls, and in football stadiums. He’s a part of us we just won’t let go of, no matter what political and economic force manages to take away. He’s been heard as long as there’s been sound, and been seen as long as there’s been sight. Santa Claus cannot be reduced to dogma. His story has been retold millions of times, but in each retelling, he maintains a single nature, and I’d like to believe it’s a giving one. He’s accessible to everyone, and there never is a year Santa Claus doesn’t come around. You see, Santa Claus is art.