An Excerpt from Reaching for Insights: Stories of Love, Faith, and the Kitchen Sink, by Mitch Rosenzweig
I am not sure when I first learned the truth. It could have been one of my oh-so-helpful brothers who told me, or I could have learned about it in some dark alley. Of course, I wanted to believe in Santa. I think like many, I wanted to hedge my bets. Better to believe and get presents than doubt and get coal. Of course, I knew that all the presents didn't come from Santa. We got them from Mom and other family members.
When I was raising my children, we were pretty sneaky. We had four types of wrapping paper. Santa had his own for each of the kids, and mom and dad had different paper. When my daughter was old enough, she too wanted to know if Santa was real. I think she asked me the day after Christmas, just to be safe.
Inevitably we go through challenges and changes in our beliefs as we grow up. When we were young, we believed in magic, fantasy, and things unknown. I remember my older brother magically making quarters appear for my son after he had stealthily hidden them around the house. My son was amazed. As children, we are very willing to believe in the unknown. It's not that we are gullible; it's just there is so much we have yet to learn about life and the world that the mystery of faith seems natural. Of course there is a God-that's easy to believe.
As rational and ideology-challenging young adults, we lose much of our faith. We get all Missouri-like and say, "Show me. If you can't prove it, it can't be true." It's a by-product of our education system. The quest for the right answer. Perhaps it was exemplified by the Beatles' claims about God being dead back in the 60's. Prove it. Many young adults walked away from their faith in those days.
Now that I'm way 'growed up', and in spite of the logic programming, on Christmas morning I still believe. I believe in the magic of Christmas. Wide-eyed children will race to open their gifts full of joyful happiness. We will express our faith in our carols and prayers. On bended knee or surrounded by torn wrappings, we will give thanks.
Many will have nothing. No presents, or trees, carols, or even prayers: the forward-deployed, the impoverished, and the lonely....Lost on this day, just like every other day. For them, like us, the best gift isn't under the tree anyway. Rich, poor, faith-filled or not, we are still loved. God is there whether we believe or not. He always brings his presence to those that believe-and those that don't. What a gift that is. That is the magic of Christmas.
I do believe.
In his new book Reaching for Insights: Stories of Love, Faith, and the Kitchen Sink, veteran clinical psychologist and social worker Mitch Rosenzweig attunes his therapeutic sensibilities to his daily landscape and uncovers life lessons for us all - treasures gained by observing the ordinary from an often amusing, and always positive, perspective. This rich collection of 200 brief essays penned from his personal and professional observations delights us and invites us to grow into better, more compassionate human beings. For more information, visit reachingforinsights.com.