By: Chuck Palahniuk
From the Field Notes of Green Taylor Simms ( Historian):
In Africa, people don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy. Instead, they have the Tooth Mouse. In Spain: Ratoncito Pérez. In France: La Bonne Petite Souris. A tiny, magical rodent that steals teeth and replaces them with spare change. In some cultures, the lost tooth must be hidden in a snake or rat burrow to prevent a witch from finding and using the tooth. In other cultures, children throw the tooth into a roaring fire, then, later, dig for coins in the cold ashes.
By first believing in Santa Claus, then the Easter Bunny, then the Tooth Fairy, Rant Casey was recognizing that those myths are more than pretty stories and traditions to delight children. Or to modify behavior. Each of those three traditions asks a child to believe in the impossible in exchange for a reward. These are stepped-up tests to build a child’s faith and imagination. The first test is to believe in a magical person, with toys as the reward. The second test is to trust in a magical animal, with candy as the reward. The last test is the most difficult, with the most abstract reward: To believe, trust in a flying fairy that will leave money.
From a man to an animal to a fairy.
From toys to candy to money. Thus, interestingly enough, transferring the magic of faith and trust from sparkling fairydom to clumsy, tarnished coins. From gossamer wings to nickels…dimes…and quarters.
In this way, a child is stepped up to greater feats of imagination and faith as he or she matures. Beginning with Santa in infancy, and ending with the Tooth Fairy as the child acquires adult teeth. Or, plainly put, beginning with all the possibility of childhood, and ending with an absolute trust in the national currency.
Each holiday tradition acts as an exercise in cognitive development, a greater challenge for the child. Despite the fact most parents don’t recognize this function, they still practice the exercise.
Rant also saw how resolving the illusions is crucial to how the child uses any new skills.
A child who is never coached with Santa Claus may never develop an ability to imagine. To him, nothing exists except the literal and tangible.
A child who is disillusioned abruptly, by his peers or siblings, being ridiculed for his faith and imagination, may choose never to believe in anything—tangible or intangible—again. To never trust or wonder.
But a child who relinquishes the illusions of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, that child may come away with the most important skill set. That child may recognize the strength of his own imagination and faith. He will embrace the ability to create his own reality. That child becomes his own authority. He determines the nature of his world. His own vision. And by doing so, by the power of his example, he determines the reality of the other two types: those who can’t imagine, and those who can’t trust.
From the Field Notes of Green Taylor Simms:
Of greatest interest is the idea that an average person easily reaches this mystical meditation state, “theta” brain waves, the state most sought by monks and pilgrims, simply by driving an automobile. Any long drive, anytime you’ve passed time and covered distance with no memory of the process, you’ve been submerged in deep theta-level meditation. Open to visions. Open to your subconscious. Creativity, intuition, and spiritual enlightenment