As many of you know, my mid-life crisis came early. After fifteen years in the networking industry commercializing and connecting people to the Internet, I stepped back in the mid-90’s to look at the people we were connecting and, well, people in general. For several years, I directed my creative energy to parenting, studying psychology and seeking the meaning of life (or at least the meaning of mine). I did not find the meaning of life, but I did learn how we create meaning for life. The answer – through story.
Story is writ large at holiday time. Each of “the holidays” attends to and breathes life into a sustaining cultural story – a story which we ultimately choose, embrace, customize and share with others. Our chosen story is our way of reconnecting with our humanity, reminding ourselves what we and others need, and searching for nuggets of wisdom.
As a middle-aged girl from Iowa, my holiday story is, naturally, the Santa story. Santa is the guy who delivers "magic". Forever. Year after year. Santa is a sustainability-driven guy. He inspires and cares for the youngest generation, and in so doing provides for all generations at the same time. Santa takes the long view. He bestows gifts that delight today (a song, or a sweet), gifts that comfort day after day (a sweater, a sofa), and gifts that will generate experience and growth (a book, a bike, a computer, a car). Santa forms a generative platform on which others can create. Santa is cool.
When we are very young, Santa [insert inspiring holiday character here] is outside of us. But as we grow, Santa moves inside. By school-age, we begin to share in the Santa-creation experience. By adulthood, we begin to design our own form of Santa-ness , based on what is important to us. What do we wish to create? To give? To hope for? What magical effect do we seek to generate through our gifts?
One thing is for sure – we must each become our unique form of Santa. At holiday time, and all of the time. If we refuse -- there will be no delight, no comfort, no learning, no platform on which to create. There will be no magic. By creating [insert inspiring holiday character here], we create our meaning for life.