There I was, driving down the road with my teenage son in the front seat and my daughter and her friend Lauren in the back. Lauren says to my daughter: “How old were you when you found out Santa Claus was your parents?”
My son didn’t say much, but my daughter (who is younger than he) admitted that she began to suspect years ago, when she recognized that the wrapping paper on one of her gifts suspiciously matched some she had seen in our closet. We went on to talk about the Tooth Fairy, and in spite of my futile attempts to explain things and salvage the remaining shreds of childhood innocence (theirs AND mine), I was able to keep driving without veering off the road over an embankment. But just barely.
When I was your age….
Sadly, kids these days are much older than they were when I was a kid. And how will this generation be as adults? Will they have “inner children” inside, fighting for their lives? If we are to continue to see the world through childlike eyes as adults, it all comes down to our beliefs. Like our belief in Santa.
Like many choices these days, the belief in Santa is a personal one. Luckily, scientific proof has never been provided in favor or against, so to me, it’s still an open question. For centuries, man has pondered the question. To this day, the most articulate answer lives in the form of an editorial from the New York Sun to a little girl named Virginia. To paraphrase their answer, just because we can’t see him doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.
If you have doubts, or struggle with Jesus’ suggestion to “be like a little child,” (now there’s someone who experienced people’s disbelief), take a minute to read this brief editorial. It may be just the pick me up you need this holiday season:
Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
If you prefer more historical proof, you can always take comfort in the real life guy, Nicholas of Myra, on whom our current Santa is based, unbeknownst to much of the world. He was a bishop in the 4th century, who, legend has it, went around “vandalizing” his neighborhood by throwing gifts and money into open windows to those in need. This contributed to his canonization, and as Saint Nicholas he is adored and prayed to by children everywhere, especially around late December. When discussing Saint Nicholas, another saint, Anselm, who was an abbot, bishop, philosopher and theologian, asked this question: “Why is your name poured forth everywhere except that the world may have some great good poured into it?”
Some of us may look down our nose at the notion of Santa Claus, especially since these days, young and old, we are so sophisticated, smart, and savvy. But it’s worth it to pause to consider what we do believe, what we don’t believe, and what are the things we want to believe.
Every year, in my kids’ stocking, they find a small gift with a little note that says, “I believe in you. Signed, You-Know-Who.” I’m not sure what they will believe when they get to be my age, but Santa and I are doing everything we can to help them hold on to their childhood for as long as possible.