Thursday, December 09, 2004

I Think They Put Exams in December so Christmas Can Cheer You Up

By: Michael Akerman

Ah, December: that magical time when we don our gay apparel, pretty sidewalks are dressed in holiday style, Santa Claus checks his list twice (is that really enough? I mean, with 2 billion or so Christians, you'd think he'd still miss something), and college students march dejectedly toward final exams. Oh, and our Jewish friends do something with candles. And 2% of people celebrate Kwanzaa (Kwanzaa? Seriously?!)

As the title may infer, I'm unsettled about the idea of exams. Not that I did poorly. No, at worst I may have gotten a B on one, unlikely on two. I'm almost certain I got A's (bear in mind that I have two left, though, but they should be easy). My problem is the sheer weight that is placed on these: sometimes up to 40% of your grade is based on the final exam. That's one single test, which cannot be retaken, making up a plurality of your grade.

I'm never for all-or-nothing situations. There should always be a chance to fix your mistakes. This is why I think that someone who committed a single murder should only get life in prison. Any more than one, of course (except in rare cases where several people are killed in one incident, like shooting someone with a shotgun and accidentally killing a passerby) and they should be eligible for the death penalty.

For something more cheerful:

I think people misunderstand Santa. I'm a firm believer in Santa Claus. Not the North-Pole-living, elf-employing variety, of course, but something more akin to the editor's opinion from "Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus." Santa Claus is not a person. Like God, he manifests himself in each person. Granted, St. Nick's scope is more limited. St. Nick manifests himself as a spirit of giving. Santa is every parent on Christmas Eve, sneaking in the middle of the night, losing precious sleep to surprise their children. Santa is the selfless sacrifice of romantics to their loved when they give expensive jewelry, asking nothing in return.

Of course, it's folly to think that Santa is limited to the Christmas season. No, Mr. Claus is present the year round. However, he is never stronger than during Christmas. It's folly as well to think that you should just tell your children that Santa is a spirit. Fact is, it's hard to grasp the idea of an intangible being. This fact is the reason God is portrayed anthropomorphically. He's probably not human, or even human-formed. He probably didn't form us, physically, in his image, but mentally. However, people, especially children and the less rational people of the past ages, can better grasp tangible ideas: six days of creation, an anthropomorphic God, and a geocentric universe. None of these are true, but they're certainly easier to grasp than trillions of years for creation, an isomorphic God, and the Earth drifting around somewhere on the side of the universe.

No, it's better for children to know Santa as human. There will come a point when they will question this. For a while, it's better to fill in the gaps in reasoning for them, because they will be unable to understand the true nature of Santa. They will ask how he can travel around the world in a night: explain that he only has to cover a single time zone in an hour, and he has time-bending technology. But eventually, the time will come that they realize that Santa is not corporeal. I exhort you: don't call Santa false. Don't tell a child he doesn't exist. To do this is to err to a great degree. For, truly, Santa Claus does exist, he always has existed, and he always will exist.

How do I know? I feel him. Can you feel him too?

By my hand,
~Michael Akerman