psst. hey. yeah, you. there’s no santa, right? i mean, i’m a thirty year old woman and long ago stopped believing in make-believe things like the easter bunny (that was an easy one to let go of), elves, cupid, and even santa claus. i’m not gonna lie. it took a few years longer than it maybe should have for me to let santa go, and even then, i think i still housed a faint notion, way, way in the back of my poor deluded brain, that he was, in some way, real. the magic, in other words, that i believed in so fervently, was in some way real. it’s hard to let go of things you really believed in with all your heart and soul for so long. it took me many more years than that to let go of other misguided notions like god and heaven, the devil and the fiery pits of hell that awaited evil-doers at the end of their troubled lives. and that, my friend, is my point.
last year, we were all gung ho about santa, we beefed him up to ruth’s one-and-a-half-year-old self. we talked about him, pointed him out in books and rehearsed with her where he would come down on christmas eve to drop off her presents for being good under our tree, as we locked eyes and snickered with delight over her head. one of the best things about having kids is getting to see them believe in santa, get super excited about the whole thing. i mean, we’ve missed santa. for us, he has been nothing but thin wisps of vapor from the past for over fifteen years. with ruth, we would get to bring him back to life again.
this year, though, there is a problem. since last year, ruth has grown up a lot. i mean, she’s still very young and naive and all that, and if we told her there was a santa, she would believe us. but suddenly, there is a road block in my head about the whole thing. we don’t lie to ruth. we always explain the truth in the most complete way possible. we respect her a lot as a person, and in turn, she is growing to respect us. and to trust us.
“i dunno, greg,” i said forlornly the other day, “as sad as it is, i don’t think we can do the whole santa thing. one day, she’ll find out we lied to her. i want her to trust us completely.” plus, how can you raise a child as an atheist and then tell them that santa is real? i mean, ludicrous, right? yeah, god doesn’t exist, but this big fat elf man can fit down your chimney and, by the way, his reindeer can fly? how does he do it all in one night? magic. does he visit poor children who are starving in third world countries? you bet!
how would we handle it? greg asked. we came up with a plan to let others, grandparents and things, tell her santa is real and all, but we, personally wouldn’t talk about him and if she asked us, we would tell her it is a christmas story that people like to talk about.
greg is worried about her being the spoiler in her class when she goes to school. i can’t tell you how disappointing it is not to be able to bring santa back. you don’t understand. i saw it as one of the highlights of parenthood.
but, you may be thinking, you will be depriving her of the magic you experienced as a child. those special feelings that came with christmas when the whole world had a different sheen and anything seemed possible. yes. i know. i miss that magic, and, like i said, some of it still lingers on for me, even as a thirty year old woman. it’s hard to let things like that go. which is exactly why we don’t want to weave that beautiful lie for ruth, only to take it away later. to be grounded in reality is underrated and a trait that i value very highly in people. everywhere you look, there are people that live their lives up in the clouds, that accept lies over the truth, that prefer their imagined lives to their real one. i want ruth to enjoy the real things about holidays, not some fanciful story (sorry, santa). the great bob marley, perhaps, said it best, “most people think great god will come from the skies, take away everything and make everybody feel high. but, if you know what life is worth, you would look for yours on earth.”
santa, how can i put this, you fat, jolly bastard? i wish you weren’t so goddamn lovable. you’re everything that childhood dreams are made of. ideally, you, jesus, harry potter and i would all attend hogwarts together and never leave the pages of a novel and be bffs 4ever ( sorry, i don’t know text language. i’m kind of a dinosaur like that). we would never grow old or have to experience sickness and death. but, santa, you’re just not real ( i say, still wishing it weren’t true and with maybe 1/1000th of my being still rushing forward, saying, “yes, he is! i believe in you, santa!”).
so, go ahead and call me scrooge. just last year, i would have joined you. and, i’m not saying that if you tell your kids he’s real, you’re wrong. i envy you in a way. but, you never know how parenthood is going to change you. the things you will find yourself letting go of, and conversely, believing in.