Hyman the Ghost

“When did you learn that Santa Claus doesn’t exist?” This was a question asked in a recent group meeting, and outside the obligatory, bad “Santa’s not real?” joke, I was amazed at the answers. Four of the seven people said they never really believed in Santa. They detailed what logical four year olds they were, and I felt like an idiot. How naïve was I as a kid? How did I not make the connection that we had no chimney, the handwriting on the tag looked an awful lot like Mom’s, and the presents from Mom were wrapped in the same paper as Santa’s? The evidence was right before my eyes!
The scene brought me back to a “magic trick” my dad did when I was a kid. He told us a ghost lived in his handkerchief. He would place the handkerchief on a table, call on Hyman the Ghost, and the handkerchief would magically rise in the middle. It was amazing! “Dad, make Hyman do it again! Do it again!! Do it again!!!” A few years later he would do the same magic trick for my stepbrothers and sister. I had already learned there was no ghost named Hyman that lived in the handkerchief, unless you call a bent wire sewn into the cloth a ghost. Immediately my brothers and sister picked apart the trick. They knew! Again I felt like an idiot. When I was their age, I fell for the “trick” hook, line, and sinker. How naïve was I to believe that a ghost lived in a handkerchief? And who ever heard of a ghost named Hyman?!?
But here’s the deal. I’m not an idiot, and I wasn’t quite as naïve as I thought. There are two reasons I believed in Santa and a ghost named Hyman. The first is that I believed in magic. I believed that that there were things in this world that defied explanation. I believed that there could be something out there that we can’t see that moves and affects the world around us. Kids today don’t believe in magic. There’s a whole thing I could do here about the spiritual realm, science, and miracles, but I’ll save that for later.
The other reason I believed in Santa and Hyman? I trusted the people who told me about them. My dad was the one to break the news that Santa didn’t exist and he did it under the pretense that he felt like he was lying to me. Maybe he really felt that or maybe that’s just how he chose to break the news, but it made sense. There must be some level of fear for parents that a child will feel betrayed when he discovers that he have been purposefully misled for so long. I’m not suggesting parents are wrong. On the contrary, I love that parents can instill a sense of mystery and magic in a child’s life, and I am grateful that I had and still hang on to that sense of mystery and magic. Generally, kids today don’t have that sense of mystery and magic. We are cynical and skeptical. As a child of post-modernity we don’t accept anything at face value; we don’t trust anyone. There are a lot of really good reasons in this world to be cynical, but how sad is it that a six-year-old child is too much of a cynic/skeptic to believe in magic? No wonder we are so slow to accept Jesus. Skepticism has become the birthright of our generation.

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2 Responses to Hyman the Ghost

  1. J says:

    J,

    I am glad that you beleived in the mysteries and wonders that make up life. Keep believing……

  2. Joel (6-9) says:

    Fef-H,

    Glad you put me on your list. I look forward to reading your thoughts from time to time. In 1994 Fisher 4East speak, it would be “something else.”

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