In Defense of Santa Claus
By Nadia C. Shoshana
Word Count: 1229
Summary: The author’s mother explains to her young daughter the truth about Santa Claus
I was a firm believer in Santa Claus until I turned eleven years old. After all, it was always the villains or grumps who doubted the Christmas magic, never the characters I admired and wanted to imitate. I was also very stubborn and Christmas was my favorite time of year. So it took me until I was eleven years old before I began to doubt that Santa Claus was real.
I began asking questions. How crazy is it for one individual to travel all the way around the world and visit every child in one night? Why were all the toys that Santa brought just like the ones on the store shelves instead of handmade by the elves? Why was my best friend, Betsy, shushed by her mother when I explained I still believed in Santa Claus? I talked with Betsy later, when her mom was not around, and she explained that she did not believe in Santa Claus. Her mom and dad did not practice playing Santa Claus because they did not want their children to grow up believing in lies. It was better, Betsy explained, if children were told the truth—that there is no Santa Claus. I was devastated. I knew the tooth fairy was not real when I found my dad poking around under my pillow one night, but somehow it had not shaken my belief in Santa Claus. No, it took very forward and practical Betsy to convince me that Santa Claus might not be real. I wondered when or if my parents would tell me. Did they think I already knew because I was eleven? What eleven-year-old still believed in Santa Claus? I decided to test them as soon as we were alone.
My mother and I were tinseling the Christmas tree, and my siblings were out of earshot. She was talking about the Santa Claus printed on a silk ornament that my father had bought for her many years ago. The portrayal of this Santa Claus was more traditional. He has a long silver beard instead of a plump white one. He had dark cherry velvet robes instead of the coat and pants. He resembled what might be called ‘Father Christmas’ in my mind. He was skinnier than most modern portrayals, but that did not keep him from being jolly. He had big red cheeks and a large black belt wrapped around a firm middle, a sack tossed over one shoulder, and polished black boots. He looked as if he could almost talk, and if he did, it would be a far richer voice than any I had ever heard before, like a Moses or St. John the Baptist voice.
“I always thought Santa Claus must look something more like this, certainly not like all the commercials are trying to portray him,” my mother remarked, gazing lovingly at the ball.
I swallowed hard and said, “Mom, you know I am too old to believe in Santa Claus anymore, right?”
My mother turned and looked at me. To my surprise, she quickly put the tinsel down, gently grabbed my hand and led me into the other room, “Come on, sweetheart. We need to talk.”
My siblings watched me as I left and I felt like I was being led away for punishment. ‘Oh boy, here comes the explanation and growing up talk,’ I thought as my mother rattled off instructions for the rest of my siblings about staying out of trouble for a few minutes.
We slipped into my bedroom and closed the door behind us. My mother looked at me steadily, took a deep breath, and said, “Sweetheart, Santa Claus is real.”
I am sure my mouth must have fallen open. I was not prepared for that answer. I thought I would be told how to keep the magic alive longer for my siblings, to watch what I say around them, how I am growing up and an expected part of that is to lose belief in Santa. I was prepared for almost anything else but hearing that Santa Claus was real. But my mother’s serious blue eyes did not let me doubt for a moment that she believed.
I was frightened. This was not what I expected. “So-so what about all the presents on Christmas? You don’t expect me to believe that a man in a red suit really visits every child in the entire world in one night?!”
My mother looked a little sad. She sat down on the bed and beckoned me to join her.
I sat down slowly, and the words just tumbled out. “Betsy said that she doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. She knows her parents buy her presents. She says her parents don’t want to lie to their children and so they tell them Santa Claus is not real, because he isn’t.”
“Santa Claus is real, sweetheart, but he is not real in way we think as children,” my mother explained, “In a way, Santa Claus is even more real than we could possibly imagine. We believe in God the Father. He has given every single one of us the incredible gift of His Son. That is a gift far beyond anything we could imagine. Not even the angels could have imagined it. In a single night, every single person is offered the gift of Jesus from God the Father. Parents as well as children, every person from the poorest beggar to the richest king, receives a gift beyond price.
“The real Santa Claus gives parents the ability to become His little elves. We participate in just a tiny way in the joy of giving, only because God our Father gave first. As we grow up, Santa Claus does not die. He becomes even more real, and the story turns out to be so much greater than we are told as children. This is why we tell you stories, not to deceive you, but to prepare you for the truth. We need stories, we need Santa Claus, in order to take those steps we need towards the truth. If the truth were to be revealed all at once, it would surely be too great for us to handle. Even I am still learning and growing. Every Christmas, Santa Claus becomes more real for me; I learn something new about the joy of giving, and I feel even more like God the Father’s little girl, waiting for Him to give me the greatest gift of all, His only Son, on Christmas Day. Do you understand a little better now?”
I sniffed and I am sure my eyes were red, but I did not care. I hugged my mother and thanked her. Her eyes were shining as we walked back into the living room and began to tinsel the tree once more. I looked at the ornament my mother cherished. I knew why that Santa Claus looked more real. It looked more like the pictures of God the Father.
Santa Claus was real again for me. My doubt was dead and dispersed. Christmas was even more magical for me than any that had dawned before. Every year, just like for my mother, I have grown to believe even more in Santa Claus, not as the world does, but in a far, far more powerful and magical way.