Four times I’ve had the sad task of explaining the reality of Santa Claus.
My breath caught for just a moment when my oldest son asked the question as our car stopped at a light on the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Richmond Street nearly 20 years ago. He blindsided me with his innocent question and my eyes welled up when I stammered out the truth as I saw it then. Those few moments stand as some of the most vivid of his colorful childhood, maybe because, in a way, they were the harbinger of its end.
Many years later I gently initiated the conversation with my younger son. A sweet soul with an imaginative father, Vinnie believed in Santa for a very long time. One year, Vince stuck cotton on the rim of the empty milk glass from a tray of treats left out on Christmas Eve. “Hey look,” he said the next morning. “Santa’s whiskers got stuck on the milk glass.”
Hard evidence like that is tough to refute.
Molly’s friend had a spectacular retort to the little ones who quoted their parents when they tried to convince her that Santa Claus was afraud.
“Your mom and dad just feel sorry for you because you’re on the naughty list,” she used to say.
Our elaborate lives call for faith in so many ways and two of the most important, our faith in God and our faith in ourselves, really have nothing to do with Santa Claus.
But I still support the big guy. I love the innocence he represents and the excitement he inspires in little people all over the world.
And, like I told each child in the four conversations I had, I see a change come over the world at Christmas time. People smile more and give generously; they complain less and care genuinely.
It’s been an especially hard year, this year of the protestor. Money is tight and people are scared. Santa can’t solve any of those problems. Not really. But, for a little while, he can bring peace, a brief refuge from an imperfect world.
We believe in Santa and we hope you do too.
Merry Christmas from Molly and me.
|Santa made a pre-Christmas housecall and scared
the Charles Dickens out of three-year old Katherine.