I am glad I grew up with the tradition of Santa Claus. My brother and I would tell my mother what we wanted for X-mas and she’d say she would call Santa from her office and (this was 45 years ago long before technology was commonplace) give him our message. And without fail Santa would magically come inside our living room and leave behind our gifts.
It was awe-inspiring, more than the gifts I was fascinated by Santa’s magic. This fat benevolent man with white hair entering our home through the window and keeping our gifts. Christmas was indeed magical.
Life soon changed for me after my mother’s death. I had to grow up real fast to survive my now brutal reality. Those were tough times for an 11-year-old struggling to make sense of this family betrayal. How could my father change so much and become so cruel? Why was my grandmother being cold towards me? What had I done to displease her? How could my once loving brother become so mean? Why was my cousin trying to do things to me which were wrong? Why is my uncle looking at me weirdly and his wife hates me?
It was all so confusing and I did not know what to do. At that moment I wished my mother had left me Santa’s number so I could call him. Maybe he could help me out.
Dissociation & Daydreaming
It was during this time when the abuse was deeply traumatizing because there was no physical escape from the oppressive situation my mind took to escaping into fantasyland. Life became bearable living in my daydream world where all good. I went to places that were exciting and met people who were kind and loving. I was able to survive but coming out of this dream reality was painful.
Thankfully, life was not one continuous abusive trajectory. Because there were people in my reality who were kind and caring I did not totally slip into a dissociative state where I was totally unaware of my current reality.
Dr. Biever in his book The Wandering Mind presents the complexities of Dissociative Disorder (DD) in a manner that invites readers to explore their own experiences and coping styles. There is a thin line between adaptive fantasy and maladaptive daydreaming.
Dissociation happens on a scale of 1-10. 1 -5 being normal acts and 6-10 the various dissociative disorders – dissociative fugue, depersonalization and so on.
Believing In Possibilities
The only way to survive through all the abuse and trauma was to daydream of the magic of possibilities. I’d dissociate into my fantasy world where magic does happen. I’d dream of Santa coming on his sled with Rudolph his red-nosed reindeer to take me with him. Just the thought of Santa helped me overcome the pain of loneliness and rejection.
My belief in the magic of Santa helped me dream of solutions. How to get beyond this life of misery. It was the magic of possibilities that ‘yes’ maybe there are opportunities out there that will help me get through.
In his uplifting memoir, neurosurgeon James Doty Into The Magic Shop describes his serendipitous meeting with a kind lady Ruth. She taught him visualization techniques that gave him the self-esteem to escape from his dysfunctional childhood and imagine a new future for himself.
According to him “the brain doesn’t distinguish between an experience that is intensely imagined and an experience that is real.” Furthermore “the brain will always choose what is familiar over what is unfamiliar.”
My childhood belief in the magic of Santa helped my mind overcome my brain’s negativity bias – the Not Possible Block. The belief that magic happens was encoded in my implicit memory, my unconscious mind had been programmed to believe in magic. It saved my life.
Child, Magic & Belief
The mind is a powerful organ, our thinking shapes our lives.
When we parents nurture our kids’ magical fantasies of fairies, angels, Santa Claus and God we give them the tools to live in an uncertain world. Our striving for success is defined by our belief in possibilities. We can achieve, we can overcome. Anything can possible, magic and miracles do happen. It is the hope that things will get better.
Yes, working hard and striving towards our goals is important but our belief shapes our outcomes. Whether it is our health or our success in life
Expecting magic to happen does not change our life circumstances, it changes how we emotionally respond to that circumstance. And each of us has the ability to change how we emotionally respond to our life circumstances and create an environment where hope helps us ride through difficult times. Our brain has been wired for magical happenings.
I have passed on Santa tradition to my son – the belief in the magic of possibilities. Every parent should give their child the gift of believing in magic where anything is possible. It helps make life interesting and tough times bearable.
Child Development Expert Says The Magic Of Santa Claus Is No Lie
The Wandering Mind: Understanding Dissociation from Daydreams to Disorders by John Biever & Maryann Karinch
Wandering Mind – What the Brain Does When You′re Not Looking by Michael Corballis
Tinker Dabble Doodle Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused Mind by Srini Pillay