“Oh, and Dad?”
“Do you believe in Santa Claus?”
My son Evan is almost eight years old. While at the mall, he wanted to talk to Santa. I was surprised by this, since he had already sent Santa a list of what he wanted. “Santa” had mailed him back, requesting he leave a plate of cookies out, and assuring him that he would do his best to get everything on his list under his Christmas tree.
We were driving home when he sprang the question on me. We had been discussing weighty topics, like how does Santa get into houses without chimneys. We decided it was Santa’s magic that allowed him to get in. I also suggested it would be easier for Santa to go slowly down the street delivering presents, like the paperboy. “But Dad, Santa can’t leave presents on our porch! He has to put them under the tree!” Ah, yes. The magic of Santa also allows him to land a 30 foot long sleigh on a 28 foot rooftop.
When he asked the question, I panicked and froze. Was he testing me? Or did someone tell him that Santa wasn’t real?
I didn’t want to lie to him. I mean, I am the person who wrote Santa’s letter to him. I am the person who gets the items on the list and puts them under the tree. I’m the one who ate the cookies and drank the milk.
So does that make me Santa, then?
As the seconds ticked away, and Evan looked at me awaiting a response, I realized who Santa Claus truly is. Traditionally, Santa is known for giving gifts. His legend is based on the example of St. Nicholas, known for his generosity for those in need. Can I not also be generous? I may not be able to always afford presents, but I can give my patience, my knowledge, my sympathy, in some way, every day, to everyone I meet. Deep down, we all have and can exercise our capacity for spiritual and emotional generosity.
In truth, we are all Santa Claus. We all carry the magic that Santa has in our hearts. It is we who choose how and when to share that. It’s unfortunate that it takes the holidays to remind us of this, and that many choose to be the Santa that we all can be only at Christmas time.
I turned to Evan and said thoughtfully, “Yes, Evan, I do believe in Santa Claus.” He smiled back at me, and said, “me too!”
Oh, and Santa, if you’re listening, for Christmas this year, could you give me something to help remind me that you exist year round, and not just in December? And I’d like a new snowboard, too, if that’s not asking for too much. I’ve been good…
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