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It’s Your Turn to Be Santa This Year

by Master Charles Cannon

The legend of Santa Claus offers some timely tips for creating a very different holiday season this year.

According to Wikipedia, “Santa Claus is believed to make lists of children throughout the world, categorizing them according to their behavior (‘naughty’ or ‘nice’) and to deliver presents, including toys, and candy to all of the well-behaved children in the world, and sometimes coal to the naughty children, on the single night of Christmas Eve. He accomplishes this feat with the aid of the elves who make the toys in the workshop and the flying reindeer who pull his sleigh. He is commonly portrayed as living at the North Pole and saying ‘ho ho ho’ often.” 

That’s quite a story. What can we learn from it?

First, that we have a very human propensity to believe in strange things! Sure, it’s a story for children but we adults have our own stories, for instance, our conviction that the end justifies the means. That’s one of the pillars of modern day thinking, a belief that has no long-term validity, as history proves over and over again. In fact, believing and acting as if this were true takes us onto a very slippery slope that erodes personal integrity and inevitably leads to the compromise of values. Besides, it doesn’t work.

Sixties folk singer / satirist Tom Lehrer introduced his song National Brotherhood Week this way: “There are some people who do not love their fellow man… and I hate people like that!”

We can laugh at the blatant hypocrisy but what about our own? Do we justify a result with behaviors that stand in direct contradiction to the result we want? Or do we operate differently, knowing that the means always determine the end? Bakers know that the ingredients they use determine the final taste of their product. Likewise, the way we live, the qualities we express, show up in every moment. We experience what we express.

Here’s a second Santa lesson that’s more inspiring: the story doesn’t mention what Santa gets out of the deal. He seems to just give, with no strings attached. We’ve all been a recipient of unconditional generosity and we know how that felt. We’ve all given that way too, which felt just as good.

Mother Teresa famously said, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” So, as we enjoy this holiday season, I wonder if we might focus our giving differently, to embody the wisdom of her words?
Of course, before we get to Christmas, we’ve got Thanksgiving to navigate. Best known for heavy eating and drinking, this tradition originated in 1621 with a feast that lasted three days, attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims.  But this was not as much of a stand-alone event as we may believe. Wiki says, “The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating "thanksgivings"—days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought.” 

What if we returned to tradition and made this Thanksgiving not just an isolated season of prayerful gratitude (for those of us who do more than the heavy eating and drinking) but the beginning of a new lifestyle and attitude. Ralph Waldo Emerson advised that we “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” 

Remarkable. This injunction to “include all things in your gratitude” would necessarily mean including all people. Could we really do that? The Pilgrims included Native Americans. Can we include those we disagree with, politically and religiously, and those with different gender affiliations? Are we grateful for them or judgmental? Do we pray and love without conditions or do we claim God is on our side against the different “others” in the world?

This holiday season provides an opportunity to wake up from the sluggish haze of consumerism to be loving, kind, and compassionate with everyone, 100% benevolent towards others and ourselves. We can elevate all our interactions above the overwhelm of commercial distractions, to sew seeds of truth and forgiveness, and make the world a better place. The choice is always ours but holidays give us this opportunity more than at any other time of the year. We call it the “holiday spirit” for good reason, because these are qualities that originate in spirit; they are timeless qualities of the Divine, however we may conceive It to be.

Thinking ahead to a new year and what it may bring politically and economically, what I call “living an awakened life” will help guide us through the escalating uncertainty and stress in the world around us, not by sticking our heads in the sand, but by providing exactly what we notice is missing. Can we show up consistently with peace and calm in our hearts, minds and souls and direct that blessing towards everyone? 

It’s your turn to be Santa this year and the real gifts you will give are every thought, word, and action, if they bring peace and love into the world. The Buddha offered an enlightening gift with these words: “Speak the truth, do not become angered, and give when asked, even be it a little. By these three conditions one goes to the presence of the gods.” 

Imagine if we took his gift to heart and then offered it to others during this festive season? To speak the truth – which uplifts and appreciates; to deal with our anger – never blaming others but accepting responsibility for ourselves; and to give when asked – whatever the circumstances call for.

The Buddha said that this would take us into the presence of the gods. No wonder Santa doesn’t worry about getting anything in return for his giving. What an incredible reward, just for being our authentic selves, living an awakened life!

             Master Charles Cannon is the Spiritual Director of Synchronicity Foundation for Modern Spirituality.  His other books include: Living An Awakened Life: The Lessons of Love, Forgiving the Unforgivable, Awakening from the American Dream. The Bliss of Freedom, Modern Spirituality and The Meditation Toolbox.

For more information contact Synchronicity Foundation: 757 644-3400  or visit the website: www.Synchronicity.org

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