Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Santa Claus Doesn't Exist......Or Does He?

I remember the day when I found out that there was no Santa Claus. It was a cold December afternoon in the late 70's and I was five years old. I had been searching around the house for the family dog. She was known to nest in my mother's closet, so I decided to check in there. As I pushed through the forest of polyester dresses and shrubbery made of shoe racks, I found the dog hiding out. Behind her was something much more interesting and made the excursion more worth while. It was the Millennium Falcon playset. It was on my list of things that I wanted for Christmas. I immediately knew what this meant. Santa Claus didn't exist and Mom and Dad were the folks who brought the presents. I had already suspected as much; the uncovering of the Millennium Falcon proved it.

The pieces soon fell into place. Mom and Dad were very elaborate in their deception. They would go up into the attic crawl space on Christmas Eve while we kids were dozing off and stomp around in order to make us believe that reindeer were walking on the roof. I left out letters to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve (with writing assistance provided by my sister) which were promptly answered by Christmas Day. I never noticed that Santa's handwriting matched my father's.

Mom concocted an entirely plausible explanation for the Millennium Falcon being in her closet, but, by the time she arrived home to spin the discovery, she was too late. After a few minutes of debate, she could see that my mind had been made up and owned up to the truth. It was the first "real" conversation we ever had. Discovering my parents' deception in the whole Santa Clause affair didn't adversely affect me. Nor did the knowledge that mom and dad were aided and abetted by my older siblings. I didn't feel betrayed or lied to or feel like my childhood had been crushed.

Having a child of my own, I often wrestle with the whole Santa Claus issue. I don't like lying to her. However, who am I to buck generations of tradition? Santa Claus is the ultimate snipe hunt. Besides, there's something very cool about the idea of a kind old man who likes go give out presents. My mother still hands me an envelope every year that has "From: Santa Claus" written on it. When she started doing this a number of years back, I was convinced that she was starting to lose it and so I put the local nursing home on speed dial. She isn't going nuts or sipping too much egg nog or smoking mistletoe, though. In her own way, she's trying to tell me that Santa Claus does exist. He exists in the very spirit of gift giving and in the innocent wonder we see in our children's eyes when we encourage them to believe in Santa Claus. So, when Mom hands me a present supposedly from Santa Claus every year, I feel like a kid again for a few seconds, which I suppose is the point. And that's a greater gift than the present itself.

Remember: Just because something is imaginary doesn't mean it isn't real.


  1. my sister and i ... all grown up, me with having had Liam a couple years prior, BOTH were downstairs Christmas morning at my folks house at like 5am looking at all the presents. my parents still get up at 2am and lay out all the gifts.. LOL we can't sleep from the anticipation that built up over all the years. things still say "Santa" on them too!

    i think it's all part of the "magic" of the holiday. nothing wrong with believing in something that rewards us when we've been good girls and boys all year :)

  2. I spoke to one of my brothers today. I had sent my niece something in the mail for Christmas. Apparently, when she opened it, she exclaimed "That's exactly what I was hoping for". Nice to be able to do that. It starts out, you believe in Santa, then you don't believe in Santa, then you ARE Santa.