You’ll catch on quick to this, but I’m a good liar. Your mother is as well. A few years ago, I convinced a teenager that he had to hold his breath when riding on Space Mountain because we were going into outer space. His face was blue from near asphyxiation in the photo at the end. Likewise, last Christmas Eve, your mother convinced your three year old cousin that Tinker Bell was real by setting up an action figure in the bathroom. Then, she had me initiate a face time conversation with her while she imitated Tinker Bell’s voice on the other end.
As we approach the last Christmas we’ll ever celebrate as a silent night, it dawned on me that I have to figure out how I’m going to explain Santa Claus to you. The opportunities are absolutely endless, but surprisingly, I don’t intend to lie to you at all.
I found out Santa Claus wasn’t real in the 4th grade. Up until then, I had the vague suspicion it was all a hoax. It just didn’t make any sense. How could one man carry every child’s toy in one bag? How did he get to houses without chimneys? If he ate a cookie at every house, how did he not die from diabetes at the end of my suburb? How did elves make Nintendo games? Wasn’t that violating copyright law? How exactly did he get the raw materials to build all those toys to the Arctic Circle? Was there a distribution center close by?
Deep down, I knew. He was either a time traveler who defied the laws of physics and was coming back into the past every December 25th to drop off toys to inspire one unknown child to someday develop the technology to defend Castle Greyskull from the Decepticons and Cobra, or he wasn’t real.
There were rumblings in the 4th grade. It’s inevitable. Parents can only keep this up for so long, and in the grade school rumor mill, lies get crushed quickly. So I decided to find out the truth by scouring the house when my mom took my brother to the doctor. I found the stash hidden away in the upper shelf of my parent’s closet. It was three weeks before Christmas, and here before me, I spied with my little doubtful eye every single unwrapped present waiting for me on December 25th.
Without a doubt, it was the least joyous Christmas ever. I grinned and beared it, but knowing every gift I was getting before I unwrapped the paper was misery. I hated it. In that season, I learned something very important about Santa Claus. Forget all that corporate noise you’ll hear about “You just gotta believe.” Ad agencies use Santa Claus to push product. Honestly, I don’t care if you ever believe in a fictional man who homesteads at the North Pole and comes down our chimney once a year to leave presents. Belief in something like that is stupid, because it’s obviously false and when you figure that out, what then happens to your sense of belief? To use Santa Claus as an ambassador for this sentiment is like proposing to your girlfriend with a fake diamond ring you got out of a vending machine. The illusion can only last for so long, and when it fades, there are inevitable consequences.
I want you to have fun with things that are mysterious. Mystery is good for your soul, and this is where Santa Claus is useful for parents. He’s a story that makes the anticipation fun, a silly figment of our collective imagination that adds a little bit of intrigue to those final few days leading up to Christmas. (And keeps kids from ransacking their house looking for gifts.)
In terms of belief, though, Blue, he’s on the same level as Mickey Mouse. I don’t plan on telling you he’s not real, but I won’t be sad when you figure it out. In fact, I’ll be proud. However, I will not be pleased if you ever find the presents before Christmas Day. You’d better be a good liar, too, Blue, if that day ever comes. Because you’re going on the Naughty list.