The necessity of making Father Christmas a reality

Robert Rinearson

From the Victorian Age, came the imagined figure known as Father Christmas.

Through the centuries, Father Christmas would eventually evolve into the person we now know as Santa Claus. But it was Father Christmas who became the personification of all that was good about Christmas. He was described as jolly and full of good cheer. As with Santa, the children would anticipate his arrival with boundless delight.

But when I hear the words Father and Christmas placed together, I think of the irony of all the children whose paths I crossed through the years and whose fathers chose not to be in their lives, not for Christmas, nor for that matter any other day of the year. As I have learned, the absence of a father is never lost on a child, even the very young. It may be that the father’s rejection is inherently felt by a child, sometimes blaming themselves. Or maybe it’s the impact of seeing those other children whose fathers are a daily fixture in their lives. Perhaps the father’s absence is the result of divorce, or death or imprisonment. Then there is the substantial numbers of young boys and girls who never knew their fathers. And there are those whose mothers can’t even place a name to who the father actually is. Doesn’t say a lot for our society when the likes of television personality Maury Povich has built a career on this reality.

But as we have learned, the void is not just an emotional vacuum.

Keeping in mind that in the 1950’s, according to the Council on Contemporary Families, “65 percent of all children under the age of 15 were being raised in traditional families, meaning a father and a mother. Today, only 22 percent are.” The Family Structure and Children’s Living Arrangements 2012 Report states, “57.6 percent of black children, 31.2 percent of Hispanic children and 20.7 percent of white children are living absent their biological father.” The consequences resulting from these numbers is staggering. The National Center for Fathering states, “According to 72.2 percent of the U.S. population, fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America.”

The U.S. Department of Education reports that children with highly-involved fathers were 43 percent more likely than other children to earn mostly As on their grade card, plus were less likely to have behavioral problems at school and experience depression. And according to the Father’s Alliance, girls having an involved father in their lives had higher self-esteem and were less likely to get pregnant. As for the boys, they showed less impulsivity and demonstrated elevated self-direction. Both genders grew up to achieve higher levels of education, as well as find success in their careers.

Why is this lost in a society where oftentimes the father is seen as expendable?

Ironically, it was a birthday card to an acquaintance of mine from his daughter that described what every child wants and needs by having a father in his or her life.

The card read:

“I said, I can’t.

You said, Try again.

I said, It’s too hard.

You said, Don’t give up.

I said, What if I fall?

You said, I’ll be there to catch you… and you always are.”

So here’s to dads, enjoy your children this holiday season. Make Father Christmas real.