I saw him at the mall last weekend.
I pointed excitedly to a stuffed likeness of him on a neighbor’s front porch.
I even sat and watched a movie with Pumpkin and Peanut about how elves saved him in time for Christmas.
Yes, you know who I’m referring to.
I know the modern-day Santa has roots in the tale of Saint Nicholas, who was a real live person. He gave toys and gifts to needy families, and everyone sang his praises. The guy was great, I’m not denying that.
…we all know Santa Claus has been and still is being heavily marketed as the mascot for Team Christmas. (I promise not to give a religious sermon, but technically isn’t Jesus the Reason for the Season?)
IN THIRD GRADE, MY CLASSMATES AND I MADE A BET, TO SEE WHO WOULD BE THE ONE TO SEE SANTA. MY BROTHER AND I STAYED UP LATE, AND I SAT UP IN MY BED, STARING FIXEDLY AT MY RED FELT STOCKING TAPED TO MY HEADBOARD (WE DIDN’T HAVE A FIREPLACE).
When I was a little girl, as far back as I can remember, I was told that if I stayed up late on Christmas Eve, I would see Santa himself come down the chimney and put our presents under the tree.
In third grade, my classmates and I made a bet to see who would be the one to see Santa. My brother and I stayed up late, and I sat up in my bed, staring fixedly at my red felt stocking taped to my headboard (we didn’t have a fireplace).
We wondered: How would Santa enter our house? (We didn’t have a chimney either.)
Would he come through the stove hood? No matter, we decided. We were going to see him no matter what.
Next thing I knew, my mom was waking me up, saying it was Christmas morning and there were presents under the tree.
Rats! I missed him again! None of my classmates had seen him either.
I was pretty bummed as you can imagine, but I got over it quickly enough, determined to catch the bastard next year.
BUT BEFORE I REACHED THE FOLLOWING CHRISTMAS, SOME OF MY CLASSMATES (WHO APPARENTLY WERE A LOT MORE MATURE THAN I WAS) SUDDENLY CLAIMED THERE WAS NO SANTA!
But before I reached the following Christmas, some of my classmates (who apparently were a lot more mature than I was) suddenly claimed there was no Santa!
How can he go to every house in one night? they scoffed. If he’s so fat, how can he fit in the chimney?
I didn’t even have a chimney–what about ME?
I began to seriously question everything I had ever believed in.
Does Santa visit non-Christians too? What about time zones? How can one sack carry a toy for every kid in the whole world? And why was the toy I received on Christmas morning already laying not-so-hidden at the top of my parents’ bedroom closet?
The truth finally sunk in. There was no Santa. The realization hit me hard, and I was in a daze for much of the early ’90s. I was thankful for my family, and liked the awesome gifts they got for me, but now it’s got me wondering…
Should I perpetuate the myth of Santa?
SHOULD I TELL THEM SOMETHING I KNOW TO BE FALSE, JUST TO ENTERTAIN THEM FOR A WHILE, BEFORE THE ARRIVAL OF THE CRUSHING BLOW THAT IS THE TRUTH?
I have kids of my own now. Should I tell them something I know to be false, just to entertain them for a while, before the arrival of the crushing blow that is The Truth? A truth they will most likely come to know at the hands of suddenly skeptical classmates?
They can’t avoid seeing Santa wherever they go this Christmas season, but I will not be the one to tell them they need to be good or they’ll receive a lump of coal, or that Santa lives at the North Pole with a bunch of toy-making elves in a sweatshop.
No. I’ll be telling them that Santa is just another Christmas character, alongside talking gingerbread men, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman.
Do your kids believe in Santa or not? How would you tell them he’s not real?