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Monday, December 23, 2013

Real Santa

Interesting piece in the NY Times on our belief in Santa. Basically the writer contends that the reason children believe in myths such as Santa is that they have not wired up all those billions of neurons and the difference between reality and fiction is not there or rather the ability to decipher between the two. The article goes on to say that as adults we carry a sort of fail safe mechanism that allows us to time travel back and remember those beliefs and re experience them.

Enter Christmas with all its shared memories of childhood. Certainly this is a major pleasure source for adults during the XMAS season. We remember what it was like to believe in magic or Santa Claus. Which would account for the popularity of Christmas movies with this theme of still being able to believe. According to this article we are done in when our brains become fully wired and we say oh that could never really happen.

But of course we want to believe and so we travel the back roads of these circuits to find a way again to touch that child that did believe. And these beliefs are triggered by touchstones such as the smell of a Christmas tree or a candle or the scent of cookies baking or the memory of chopping down a tree or watching our fathers drag that tree into the house.

And then for a moment our neurons do us a favor and short circuit themselves akin to hot wiring an old car and for that instance we believe again. If only for a moment.

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Books by William Hazelgrove