I still believe in Santa Claus.
I don’t remember when I first heard of St. Nicholas. Does anyone? But I remember the sense of wonder and excitement I felt on Christmas Eve. It’s not the kind of feeling you can ever quite recapture, but the thought of those days cheers me still.
There is a sort of ritual to it all. Of course a list must be made. When you’re a child this is a detail of paramount importance. The list must be crafted with great thought and care. Without it you might spend Christmas morning opening boxes of socks and underwear. No child wants socks and underwear, and finding them under wrapping paper is especially cruel.
Like a lot of people we set out cookies and milk. In the morning the milk was gone, but there was always a cookie left with a bite missing. Santa can’t be eating all our cookies, it seems, and there must be untold millions of cookies to follow. That a man might eat so many at all is something of a miracle in itself. Is it any wonder he’s so portly?
Every child knows Santa will never come while you’re awake, but trying to sleep when you know flying reindeer may appear isn’t easy. As a kid I spent hours staring wide eyed at the ceiling, thinking please let me fall asleep- please, please, please! I don’t think I was the only one.
My sister and I sometimes snuck out of our rooms to peek at the tree. Sometimes Santa had already come. Sometimes he hadn’t. It was back to bed for us.
I don’t know how early you got your parents up as a child, but my sister and I felt 5:00am was as good a time as any. We were sent back to bed, nodded off for an hour and tried again at 6:00, then 7:00. At long last we gathered at the tree; us children bouncing with excitement- our parents yawning, stretching, slowly returning to life. Strong coffee was brewed.
Santa always brought us something. We must have been reasonably well behaved ’cause we never saw a lump of coal in our stockings. The worst we found was something useful. Children do not want something useful for Christmas. It’s like socks and underwear again. I may have need pencils for school, but I didn’t want pencils for school. Why would Santa do such a thing?
It was a long time before I knew how lucky we were. Some kids in school seemed to get fewer presents from Santa, but I knew they were nice. Christmas, it seemed, was not the same for everyone, and for a while I wasn’t sure why.
You begin to deal with some serious doubts. Is believing in a magical man living at the north pole amid elves and flying reindeer rational? How can he visit so many children in one night? And what about the kids without chimneys? How’s he getting into those houses? Could the parental rumor be true? Is Santa fake?
Well I for one am sticking to my guns. Santa is real, and if you want proof I’ll give it to you.
Santa’s mission is to show the spirit of love and generosity; of kindness and goodwill. Children are reminded that someone thinks they’re special. Someone cares.
Maybe he uses magic. Maybe he uses parents.
The methods don’t matter.
The results do.
So now we approach another Christmas. Another generation will struggle to sleep, lying wide eyed in the dark. Another generation will wake on Christmas morning to a world full of miracles. Love is a miracle. Family is a miracle. We would all do well to keep our sense of wonder at humanity’s compassion. Despite the pain we sometimes find in the world, most people are good, and decent, and kind.
Yes, I still believe in Santa Claus and I always will.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.