My two otherwise quiet little daughters have recently discovered, through browsing YouTube, that Santa Clause distribute gifts, albeit secretly, among children on the Eve of Christmas.
Children of homestead find, to their surprise, the gifts around the Christmas tree and become joyous. Having known this 'more important than anything else' information, my daughters have approached me to ask, father, will Santa Clause not give us gifts?
I don't want to disappoint them. I don't say that his gifts are meant for the children of a particular faith. I look at their innocent eyes and assure, of course Santa Clause will give you gifts as you are so good, you go to school regularly, prepare your lessons and listen to what mum says. Go to bed early on 24th December and rise up early the next morning, to find out your gifts! Of course, there will be gifts!
When I was young I often wondered how Santa Claus manages so many gifts single-handedly! Where does he get all those gifts? Why does he distribute gifts only at night when children are sleeping? How can he travel so swiftly from one home to another, from one country to another? How does he know which houses have children and 'nice children'? How does he enter through the close door? Where does he stay the other time of the year?
My cranium was crammed with so many questions as such questions are tickling the brain-cells of my daughters now. Later on, with growing up and acquisition of knowledge, I came to know the mystery and history of Santa Clause. I still get amazed and amused, just like the kids, by his strange look.
He sounds so funny! A smiling white-bearded man, wearing a red coat with white fur collar and cuffs, white fur-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots, is carrying a bag full of gifts for children. He is a universal grandfather!
I do not consider Santa Clause to be limited to only one religion. He is universal, meant for all children of the world. The joy of his gifts should be for all. We the grownups only make the divide, restricting his access.
We become narrow in our vision and deprive our children of 'other joy'. We are afraid of other culture, from which we keep a 'safe distance'. What benefit does it bring to us? None. We remain detained in our own familiar hearth and home, our comfort box.
The gap among the sects gets wider, causing mistrust and misunderstanding. If we are only a little open and fair, free of prejudice, we can welcome the remote beacon to our life and enjoy the charm of being unified with others. That will establish an interfaith harmony, I believe. And children will grow up with a genuine love and respect to practices thought to be belonging to the parties on the other side of the wall.
Santa Claus appears in winter with a cozy feeling of warmth. Children need not go to him; rather he comes to them willingly, out of his sheer affection. The gift of Santa Claus entails an ethical value, which encourages children to be 'good' or 'nice'. Gifts are given to those who are well-behaved and gentle.
The naughty ones do not get any share and they themselves are to be blamed for the deprivation. Children promise to speak the truth, show sympathy to others and follow the advice of the superiors to qualify for the Santa Claus gifts. Given the gift of good sense, parents find their wards so obliged and can mould them in the correct fashion.
This way the children attain a pristine moral character, which helps in summation to build up a healthy society and state. These children would constitute the most useful segment of the future generation, who would dedicate themselves to the total wellbeing of humanity.
Gift-giving is a fantastic piece of practice, which transports children to a dreamy land, where their gains and joys are real. Though connected to Christianity, the story of Santa Claus is rooted in pagan heritage of Germanic tribes.
Sometimes Saint Nicholas, a fourth-century Greek bishop, is given the credit of being originator of this sweet custom. Santa Claus may not be a reality, but he is more than a reality. As a mythical figure, he is most immaculate, most attractive to children. No other character in the history of fantasy has been so popularly inspiring. His name is now known to all. His blessing is now for all children.
Santa Claus comes every year with a unique message-"love children": give them gifts and make them happy-appear in the role of magi for them. Parents learn from him how to be generous to their offspring.
We the grownups should make efforts to make the world a garden where children would be the merry birds. We should leave a safe and secure world to them. We should make them blissful with our every word and action. That is the lesson of Santa Claus. That should be our promise to Santa Claus.
I imagine, one day there will be a consensus about the night-from 24th December evening to 25th December dawn, a holy stretch of time.
It will be recognized as the "Santa Claus Night" when every parent on earth irrespective of caste and creed will give surprise gifts to children, of theirs and others, showering blessings in the name of the 'nocturnal saint'. It will be far more significant than the Universal Children's Day and the International Children's Day. Santa Claus Night will be homely rather than formal; it will spring from heart rather than obligation.
Santa Claus is so good, just an angel to children. He is the god of the kids. The snow-white purity of Santa Claus's beard is only comparable with the dewy smile of a baby.
I have some appeals to Santa Claus. Please continue to bloom smile in the faces of the children and don't deprive anyone. Bring good sense to the mind of the elderly people so that they always love kids just as you do. Bangladesh needs you more as children here are most vulnerable. They are tortured and killed every now and then. Inspire your pity in them, making them loving and loveable.
I know my kids will be waiting for toys and candy of Santa Claus. And I know they will be glad when they will discover them on their reading tables after getting up early in the morning of Christmas Day. Their face will beam with divine pleasure.
They will think Santa Clause came to them on a flying reindeer and they will thank him. Ho ho ho! They will feel the love, which will be churned into compassion, a guiding principle in their moral life. My two daughters, who are so enamored of little Krishna, will now love Santa Claus, and through him, maybe, Jesus Christ. May Santa Clause bring pleasure and love to every little soul!
The writer is the Director of Daffodil Institute of Languages (DIL)
and Associate Professor,
Department of English, Daffodil International University.