Christmas is behind us, now.
But there is still something about that special time of the year that I’d like to reflect and write on.
Something quite special in tragic circumstances happened to an American little child for Christmas.
In December 2016, media reported that a terminally-ill five-year-old boy in Knoxville, Tennessee, expressed as his final wish to die in Father Christmas’ arms.
This desire was realised, as narrated to the papers by Eric Schmitt-Matzen, who portrays Santa Claus at Christmas time. Schmitt-Matzen said he had received a phone call from a nurse in the boy’s hospital and rushed to the child’s room in time to close his eyes after having spoken to him, hugged him and made him happy for a last few moments.
An Italian website, Basta Bugie, has on this past Christmas made a very interesting comment on this story. It starts with a reflection and a question: what do children see of extraordinarily beautiful in Santa Claus?
One’s immediate answer would be: gifts. But maybe it’s not the specific material gifts per se.
What children see as extraordinarily beautiful about Santa is the Magic of Gift. And what’s that?
Gift is something very ordinary, obvious, if you only realise that in life the most basic, fundamental things, including life itself, are a gift. Nobody can be sure that the next minute he’ll be alive, or what his future will be.
Existing and coming into the world are gifts.
That’s how gift is at the same time the most extraordinary thing and the most ordinary, natural.
In this is the “magic” of gift. Life and Gift are inseparable: there is no Life without Gift and there is no Gift without Life.
And that’s why a character like Santa Claus incorporates and beautifully represents the mystery of existing. So that boy from Tennessee perhaps wanted to “fall asleep” in Santa’s arms not only to receive gifts, but also to continue giving.