“Bobby says that Santa’s not real.” We were in the car heading towards the bridge, going beachside for some odd reason. “He says it’s just you and Dad who put the gifts under the tree when we’re asleep. Is that true, Mom? Are you and Daddy Santa?”
“What do you believe?” She snapped. “It doesn’t matter what this Bobby believes. It matters what you believe. Do you think I look like a bearded old man?”
I told her I believed, repeatedly as a matter of fact, and assured her that her appearance was nowhere near that of an ancient man with a long white beard. She squeezed the steering wheel with white knuckles and forbid me from ever hanging around “this Bobby character” again. “Obviously, he’s a juvenile delinquent whose parents allow him to watch too much television. Imagine what normal kid his age doesn’t believe in Santa Claus.” I believed until I was twenty-five just to keep Mom from getting angry at me.
As a parent, I understand what had made my mother so upset. When our boys asked Char about the truth of Santa, she cried for days. Parents know that when a child stops believing it’s the end of an era. They’re growing up and so are we. It’s not that the Christmas magic is gone; it’s just different. I don’t like different. Not around the holidays, at least.
It was inevitable that we had the same conversation with our boys. It was due to some kid at church whose parents didn’t want the belief in Santa Claus to keep their little child from growing up and believing in their Jesus. Each boy asked the same question. “Is Santa real?” Of course, we used the great tactics taught in interrogation rooms across the globe. We answered their question with a question. “Don’t you believe in Santa Claus?” Once they were reminded that the jolly old man didn’t bring presents to those who don’t believe, they never asked the question again. Actually, even now with two children in different states, one at college and one in a career, and another married and beginning his own family, they still haven’t asked the question again. It’s one of those topics best not discussed like politics and religion. They still expect Santa to show up every Christmas morning. So do I, as a matter of fact, and this year my list is long.
Once they had said they had returned to the world of believing and dried their mother’s tears, the boys would ask me, “Daddy, do you believe in Santa Claus?” Without hesitation, and without having to lie to them, I said, “Yes, I do. Very much so.”
Santa Claus is very real to me. Okay, not the chubby old man with the white beard and cherry nose wearing a suit of red, but rather, what the figure represents. He is the fulfiller of dreams with no strings attached except the hope that you were a decent person over the past year. He’s a generous soul who brings magic wherever he goes. He’s the smile on a child’s face and the excitement in their hearts. It is the joy of innocence and it permeates everything and everyone around. It is Christmas magic and Santa Claus is the symbol, just as the Statue of Liberty is a symbol for freedom.
I don’t sit on his lap, mind you. That would just be creepy and I would probably be banned from the mall. I do smile, however, when I see him, and no, it’s not because of the sexy elves in real short skirts that usually assist Santa with the long lines of excited, nervous children. It’s because of the festive air that surrounds the jolly old man. He offers hope and the fulfillment of dreams, and we desperately need that today. Chaos could be erupting all around you, but when you see St. Nick, you feel the rush of joy that comes with him. You know then, that no matter what, things will get better.
So, it’s okay Mom. Your little boy still believes and he always will. Now, what time should I be over to get my gifts?
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For Further Reading ~ When They Stop Believing
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