Six years ago, just before Christmas, a colleague told me that her 8 year old daughter was very upset because her teacher told the class of 8 year olds that there was no Father Christmas. The teacher said that of course there were three Kings as they were described in the bible but as there was no reference to Father Christmas he therefore did not exist. She said that now they were 8 years old they should know the truth.
While this was technically correct for a teacher in a catholic school with regard to the bible I disagreed with her “truth” and very much with her intervention and while I couldn’t help the whole class I was sure that I could help one individual!
I asked my colleague to bring her daughter to work and I would have a “casual chat” with her. The girl had met me at work before and it was easy to comfortably connect with her. After a brief “hello” my intervention was roughly as follows:
“I hear that your teacher told your class that there was no Father Christmas in the bible. Your teacher was correct, there is no Father Christmas in the bible, and she is right saying that there is no single person that is Father Christmas but there is a Father Christmas, he does exist, not in the bible but right here in the world.
You see for a long time now, once a year, people have really wanted to be especially kind and generous and caring toward other people and all at the same time. You see when everybody does it all at the same time something extra and special happens.
There are too many people involved to think about them all individually, too many to count, too many in fact that we simplify all this kindness and giving and call them all Father Christmas because when everybody joins in it feels like there is some single person who is making it all happen, somebody special that makes it all special.
That means that we all are Father Christmas when we join in and we also enjoy being Father Christmas when we join in.
Now this is too complicated for young children to understand and so we make it easy for them to understand by telling them it is a single person and not all their family, friends, neighbours, and millions of people they have never met.
You are 8 years old now and not a little child anymore you are growing up and are probably ready to take part with the rest of us in being part of Father Christmas. And the good thing is you get to enjoy looking forward to Father Christmas bringing you special things, things that your parents, grandparents, family and friends have especially chosen just for you. And you will now get more involved in thinking about what would please them as well. You see we can get things like toys, clothes, books, any time of the year. That is different, it is not special. This time of the year it is the special feeling, the wanting to please each other, the wanting to make it special that makes it a very special time.
Now not everybody takes part. Some people only think about what they will get as presents and, you know, they miss out, they miss being part of Father Christmas, they only get things like any other day of the year, probably more things but not so special as appreciating they are from all of us as Father Christmas. They don’t give the special thinking and caring about others and so they miss out on becoming part of Father Christmas, part of what is really special.
So when you think of Father Christmas now you can think of all the loved and caring of your parents, grandparents, friends and also that they and all of us are more than this we are Father Christmas and this is something very special in the world.
Are you ready to be part of Father Christmas and join with us in making things special? Yes? Great! Now you have to be especially careful what you say to young children who can’t yet understand what Father Christmas really is. They need to think of him as a single person and really enjoy thinking that. And it is really lovely to enjoy how happy this makes them and how you can enjoy helping them to enjoy it more.
Now who can you especially help to enjoy Father Christmas?
Great, that should be really lovely”.
The parent later reported a total change in the child from sad and traumatised to excitedly sharing ideas about what would please cousins and friends. Later she took the part of Santas helper in delivering gifts to her young niece (dressed up and face painted so that she couldn’t be recognised of course!) and really enjoyed the experience.
The joy in caring and giving contributes greatly to our world and balances the all too common selfish greed and exploitation of others. For me the opportunity to help the little girl make a happy transition in understanding, to contribute positively to her family and enjoy her life more was a beautiful gift.
The little girl benefited from my modelling of transcendent systems. All that I told her is true and easily tested. We all take part in many larger wholes that we experience as behaving with an individual identity, for example, families, teams, gangs, communities and nations. Sometimes these larger wholes perform as “less than the sum of the parts” and sometimes as “more than the sum of the parts”. Many people have suffered or been killed in the name of some transcendent entities; gangs, religions, nations. Even though some people want to kill off Father Christmas nobody has suffered or been killed in his name. In fact every year he brings presents and joy. Sometimes they are presents we love, other times they may be presents we dislike but they are present, evidence of something much more.
With this in mind it seemed appropriate to begin my blog with this example as a little modelling gift, one that hopefully can be used to help other young contributors to the joy and mystery of life to develop into older, wiser, happier contributors. And hopefully as I continue to present some thoughts in this blog they will, whether you enjoy them all or not, be examples from modelling that you can connect to something much more.
Merry Xmas! Enjoy what Father Christmas brings you and enjoy even more what being Father Christmas brings you.