Last night on Christmas eve, I was reading this interesting story about why it came to be that Norac tracks Santa. This prompted me to immediately download the app on my phone to track Santa's progress with my kids. I found myself trying to explain how Santa could be making such rapid progress throughout the world, visiting every house in the span of a solitary night - how he violated all kinds of laws of physics (ok I left that part out, but I was thinking it). That he shows up more as a flash and gifts magically appear in neighborhoods within the same fraction of a second.
Then I thought, wow, how implausible of a story is Santa Claus, but millions of children believe. Sure, it's in their best interest, and what do they know about the implausibility of Santa Claus when the proof is in the gifts that show up out of thin air on Christmas morning.
Incidentally, we are very careless keepers of the Santa secret. My boy commented this morning on the fact that he saw my wife purchased the gift marked "from Santa" for his sister. But it doesn't seem to phase him or his sister, he still believes - though I'm not sure how faithfully he would hold onto this belief if cornered by a skeptic.
But as I thought about this crazy myth that gets perpetuated in household after household, a different thought came to me. It's a thought that comes to me in different contexts, say this one about why so many people care about Lindsey Lohan. This is really, truly a magical night. Every family of different economic incomes, different backgrounds, different circumstances align for one event, year after year because this holiday matters for so many people on so many levels, merging the celebration of Christ's birth with a myth spun from the actual life of a Catholic bishop long ago.
And the traditions and the gift giving matters economically, providing a very real boost to the economy. It's really, truly is a magical time of the year.
And the reason is because Santa Claus does exist, he is not a myth. He is real. He exists because Santa is every parent who loves their family enough to make him real by providing this magical experience over and over again for those they love. One person cannot literally provide hope, and magic for millions of children all over the world. One person never does. One person can't, but every single one of us, working together, collectively can. And this is always the case. It's why conservatives were skeptical about the way Obama won the presidency but it's also why so many liberals had hope in it.
Because real change is made by each of us doing good for those near us, one thoughtful act of sacrifice at a time. If you want to make a real difference in ways that matter, the answer is not to build the next Facebook. While cool and useful, it's not nearly as transformative as the founders of the company think. What really changes the world is for the world to change, by all of us changing together.