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The Truth About Santa Claus and Christmas Spirit

“Is Santa Claus real?”

It’s the question every parent, older sibling and older cousin dreads around this time of year. This is a very touchy subject because learning that the big man with the white beard in the red suit is in fact not real sometimes diminishes the hope and magic of the Christmas season. So, how can you address this question while keeping the Christmas spirit and magic alive, while also telling the truth? Well, this past Thanksgiving, my grandma, who is a lover and avid user of “the Facebook,” shared a post with my family that provides a beautiful answer to this burning question. In the post, the father explains to his son that children are told that Santa Claus is a person because they do not understand abstract concepts. He goes on to say that Santa Claus is a symbol and represents the idea of giving in the spirit of Christmas, meaning out of the good of one’s heart. The father finishes the conversation by urging the son to keep the secret about Santa Claus to himself and to keep the spirit alive in his heart by giving to others.

This post was truly touching and reminded me, as well as all of my family members, that the true spirit of Christmas is giving from one’s heart. This can mean giving physical gifts to your family, significant other, friends or to those less fortunate, but it can also mean volunteering your time to help at a soup kitchen or even going to sing holiday carols at nursing homes during this time of year. It could even be the simple act of holding the door for someone or just smiling at those around us. Sure, the physical gifts that we give and receive feel good, but this time of year, think about helping someone less fortunate, so that they too may experience the joy of the holiday season.

A common thought this time of year is watching Christmas movies to get into the Christmas spirit. In the movie, Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town, Santa Claus exemplifies the spirit of Christmas by bringing the children toys after the villain, Burgermeister Meisterburger, takes all the toys away. The aspect of Christmas spirit is also evident in Hallmark Christmas movies. Watching Hallmark movies this time of year with my mom is a favorite pastime. Of course, we have matching mugs that say, “Hallmark Channel movies bring joy to my world.” Don’t judge! It really makes the experience feel more special. Regardless, when watching these movies, there is a love interest, but most importantly, the protagonist is portrayed as having Christmas spirit by being a giving and loving person to all. Whether it’s working for a food drive, volunteering at an animal shelter or just helping his/her neighbor, the protagonist is always seen doing good deeds for others. In fact, Hallmark Christmas movies don’t always have Santa Claus in them, yet they are deemed appropriate for the season because they convey and spread the true spirit of Christmas.

Now, I will leave you with this dear reader: this Christmas season, when we all may be stressed about all the things that we have to do to prepare for the season, may we not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. Just as Santa says when he hands the bell to the young boy in the classic Christmas movie, The Polar Express, “this bell is a wonderful symbol of the spirit of Christmas as am I. Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.”

Caitlyn McHenry

Notre Dame '24

Hi I'm Caitlyn! I am a sophomore at The University of Notre Dame majoring in Film, Television, and Theater, with a concentration in television, and a minor in digital marketing. I have a passion for writing and enjoy singing, baking, spending time with my family and friends, going on walks with my dog Trooper, and (of course) sipping on my Starbucks coffee.
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