Just over a year ago I took the family to Lapland to meet the ‘real’ Father Christmas, along with his elves, his reindeer and his very large sack of toys. Now right away, depending on a number of factors, you may think this kind of event sounds overly commercial, perhaps even a bit tacky or phoney, but I can honestly say – hand on heart – that it was quite magical, one of the best holidays we’d ever had anywhere. We ate turkey and mince pies and there was mulled wine for the grown-ups. We rode through an enchanted wood on a sleigh pulled by dogs, built snowmen and threw snowballs in time-honoured fashion, all against a backdrop of the ultimate winter wonderland of our dreams. Plus, of course, we got to meet the man himself, the roundest, beardiest, ‘Ho-Ho-Ho-iest’ (is that a word?) Santa you’ve ever seen. The designers of the Lapland experience had made every effort, to the point where the man in the red suit almost had me convinced. Naturally he was an actor but at least his whiskers and beard were the genuine article. That much I could tell.
But what made it extra special for Anna and me was that our two daughters were still ‘believers’, which meant the holiday was free of cynicism. They were both under eight at the time and either hadn’t heard, or decided not to believe, the class sceptics telling them ‘it isn’t real, Santa is your dad’ etc, so there was nothing in the way of thought between them and the purest experience of seasonal joy. To see the look on their faces as we entered the sparkly grotto where Santa held court would have melted the heart of the meanest humbug in the world.
Syd Banks, the inspirational teacher behind the Three Principles used to say of each cup of tea he drank that it was the ‘best I ever tasted’. I have to admit it took me a while to figure out what he meant by that. Had he lost all sense of perspective? Or worse, lost his mind? No, it meant that he was experiencing the world afresh every moment, seeing the wonder in everything, much as a small child does, with no judgement, no filter of thought, opinion or belief getting between him and the sights, sounds and tastes that the universe was offering. And that undiluted pleasure was what Anna and I read on the faces of our girls in Lapland. We couldn’t, of course, see it all through their eyes, but that didn’t matter. As I stood there watching the ritual of the present giving I thought how lucky I was to have found something equally magical in my own life, something that had been there all along but simply hidden from me by my own thinking. I didn’t have to go to Lapland for it. It was free and available to me any time of day.
And the most beautiful thing of all: I didn’t have to seek it anymore. I’d been doing that all my life, (and what a relief it was to lay that burden down!) Yes, I’d had many insights along the way, from some very smart people, but I had always ultimately moved on, looking for something more authentic. Like a sceptical child I had accepted their gifts but then pulled on the beards of those ‘false Santas’ and found each time that they were attached by elastic. Since discovering the Principles I have known without a shred of doubt that the search is over.
The sceptics (or ‘realists’ as they like to call themselves) would have you believe that the rituals we’ve all grown up with are phoney and therefore worthless. That’s missing the point. There really is magic in the world if we open our eyes to it, and I’m not talking about Christmas here. I’m talking about Syd’s ‘best ever’ cup of tea. I’m talking about that innocent look of pleasure on my kids’ faces last year. And I’m talking about those things that matter to you in your life, regardless of your religious beliefs if you have any.
You may not be celebrating the festive season right now for any number of reasons, but whatever your situation here’s my message to you. If we can only wake up to the truth that we are all made perfect, that through the power of the Three Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought we can direct our lives in any way we choose, we can finally start to fully appreciate the wonderful gift of life we’ve all been given.
And you know what? Maybe Rudolph really will fly and his nose really will glow red!