Is Mickey Mouse like Santa Claus?

August 6, 2013



I fully realize that it’s only August, and I’m not trying to rush the holiday season whatsoever.  Truthfully, we haven’t had much of a summer here in chilly Michigan, so I’m not ready for the holiday season just yet.  Last week, I had a thought, and wondered if I could put it to print, and of course see if my readers would agree with me.  Mickey Mouse.  Santa Claus.  What do they have in common?  Nothing, you might say.  Not necessarily….. stay with me for a minute!

Santa Claus is a mythical yet beloved figure in children’s lives.  We want our kids to believe in Santa for as long as they can, because it symbolizes magic and youth.  It’s part of that wonderment of being a child.  My older son Andrew was told there was no Santa in the 3rd grade by another student, and slowly weaned off the idea from there.  My little man, Aidan, who just finished the 3rd grade, was also told by a student this year, but didn’t believe him.  I was kind of glad he wasn’t ready to let the fantasy of Santa go yet.  I mean, he has time to grow up, and being a grown up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  When we get older, we forget how to be a kid, and start to believe that magic is just a myth, not real at all.  Even though I’m fully grown, and have known the truth about Santa for years, I had a magic moment a few years ago.  We were sitting in a diner for breakfast around Christmastime.  I see my son look up, and low and behold, Santa was picking up a carry out.  No, not a man in a typical Santa suit, a man who honestly looked like Santa.  The man was round-ish, gray beard, rosy cheeks, and was wearing a Christmas sweater.  All the kids in the restaurant kept stretching to look at him, it was amazing.  I quickly realized, that I, and other adults were also stretching our necks to see “Santa” too.  I know there is no Santa, but for a few minutes, that man managed to make us all believe, he made everyone get excited and feel like a child, it was great.

So, what does this have to do with Mickey Mouse?  I’m getting there, don’t worry!   Mickey Mouse, like Santa, is also a mythical figure that symbolizes childhood.  Granted, we don’t have to believe in him to get presents, nor do we get to sit on his lap and make wishes, but it’s a similar effect.  When my boys were babies, I couldn’t wait for them to meet Mickey.  The look on their faces was priceless, seeing his face for the first time.  Even as babies, their eyes lit up, they touched Mickey’s nose, tried to give him kisses, etc.  That’s magic to me.  As the years go by, each time we go to Disney, the magic is still there.  The kids want to see Mickey, and all his Pals too of course.  They give him hugs, ask the characters for autographs, pose for photos, and anything else that goes along with the experience.  I never get tired of seeing it.  I admit, I like seeing all of them too.  Hugs all around!  You feel like a kid, you get that same feeling of excitement, like when you were little and got to sit on Santa’s lap.  That’s a beautiful thing.

The last time we went to Disney, I had wondered a little.  Would the boys still be excited to see Mickey Mouse?  Would my oldest son look at me and say “that’s just a person in a costume!?”  I cringed at the thought.  I had wondered if he’d still want an autograph book, or if he’d still want his picture taken.  Actually, they both were old enough to know better, and to know that the characters weren’t real.  I wasn’t ready.  I didn’t want them to lose that magic, to start to not believe in fairy tales.  That’s right, I’m the one who’s not ready.  Once a child stops believing in Santa, it takes some of the magic out of Christmas.  Does the same hold true for Disney and Mickey Mouse?  Truthfully, I don’t know the answer to that yet.  To my surprise, the boys still were starstruck with the main Mouse.  They still yelled “Mickey!” and ran over to give him hugs.  They are still more than happy to pose for a photo.  The magic is still there.  But, like with the adults in the diner when they saw Santa, I think Mickey does the same to us grown up kids.  I know for me, I’m excited to see Mickey Mouse at a character greeting.  I still give hugs and get my picture taken.  I still wave at Mickey Mouse as he floats by in a parade.  I still get excited and smile.  Maybe, no matter what your age is, if you are a true Disney fan, Mickey will always be real.  The magic doesn’t leave, it stays in your heart.  Just because our bodies have to grow up, doesn’t mean our hearts and minds have to.  It’s great to feel like a kid, to believe in magic, to let the cares of adulthood go for a little while.  So, thank you Disney and Mickey Mouse, for keeping that magic alive, and for being like Santa all year long!

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