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Saying Goodbye to Santa Claus
Wishing for Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child
I wrote this article one year ago. Since then, it seems our Nation and our World have experienced so much disappointment and sadness. Wars, terrorists, viruses attacking the unborn, natural disasters. So much loss and grief.
And then, there is Christmas. A season of anticipation, and promise, and...lies? Do we need to acknowledge that there really is no Santa Claus, or is there still hope?
Weeks (or perhaps months ago) wish lists were carefully written and mailed to the North Pole.
Today cookies were baked and decorated.
Tomorrow those same cookies (two, three, or more?) will be lovingly set on a plate, next to a glass of milk and a fat carrot for the reindeer.
And on Christmas Eve Santa Claus will don his red suit, fill his sack with toys, and hitch up the reindeer to his sleigh. Magically, he will circle the globe, visiting the homes of every good little boy and girl; his sack, like the loaves and fishes that fed the five thousand, will never be emptied.
This is the story of Santa Claus.
The Great Santa Debate
Several weeks ago I posed the following question to my fellow Hubbers:
Did any of you choose to not tell your children that there is a Santa, Tooth Fairy, or Easter Bunny? We tell our children that they should be honest--not lie. How do you rectify that with telling them the Christmas/Easter/Tooth lies?
The responses were mixed. One hubber commented, “We never did Santa with my children although my siblings and I grew up believing in Santa. We never saw it as parents lying to us; it was just part of our Christmas tradition until we learned better. My children, however, were not taught the Santa tradition. Once I became an adult and realized how expensive it was to gift for four children, spouse, and extended family members, I REFUSED to give someone else credit for providing the gifts to my children."
Another hubber seemed to question my parenting skills if I would NOT tell my children that there is a Santa “…because kids should get a childhood. It ends soon enough without parents rushing it. I always told my children Santa was the spirit of Christmas. As they grew up, that was something they could put into context. “
And Then There is This Perspective
Brad Pitt, father of six, recently addressed the subject, saying that he refuses to “lie” to his kids and that he’s not “real big on the whole Santa thing.” Pitt says he remembers when he discovered the real deal about the North Pole, and it was a “huge act of betrayal” for him as a little boy. “He told E! News, “when I found out the truth, I was like ‘Why? Why? Why would you lie to me?”
So the famous dad leaves it up to his kids to figure it out. “What I tell them is some people believe in Santa, and some people believe it’s parents, and you get to believe whatever you want.”
Revealing the Truth
Last Christmas was bittersweet for my friend John and his wife Lacey. They recognized that their children, 11 and 12 years of age, were far too old to believe that Santa Claus actually exists.
Over the years John and Lacey had created elaborate scenes to bring old Saint Nicholas to life—one year even covering the soles of boots with fireplace ashes, and then creating sooty footprints from the fireplace to the base of the Christmas tree.
But the words of naysayers and non-believers were prevailing, and last Christmas Eve John wrote this letter which he and Lacey tearfully read to their children:
"You have every reason to not believe in Santa Claus.
Your friends try to convince you. Some, that are not your friends, mock and tease you. They plant the seed of doubt that grows with your freshly-minted rational mind.
You apply your 5th grade math to the question of whether an old man, bearded, in red suit, exists--and you deduct that there is no way that he could be in so many homes in such a short period of time. No way he could carry so many gifts in such a small sleigh, pulled by only a few reindeer. It just doesn't add up.
And you are right.
But you need to know that there are two worlds: one of numbers, and things that can break, and sounds that can hurt your ears, and smoke that can cloud your sight--a world where some children go to bed unkissed, where the last words before the silky veil of sleep are not "I love you."
But there is a world where a tiny hand is not grasped when it reaches for only a single finger. In that world there is no Santa Claus. There should be; he is needed there the most.
Then there is the world your Mom and I promised to give you. It's a world where your tears may wet your cheeks, but will never dry untouched. A world where prayers are said, and some are answered, but God is always present. A world where your laughter will forever be the greatest sound your Mom and I will ever know.
In this world, there is a Santa. You will never see him, but as sure as you are loved, he is there.
Tonight I am afraid there are more tears than joy. For tonight, we as a family say farewell to a dear and trusted very old friend. He will not be coming back again for quite some time. But trust me, he will come back. When God blesses you with children, Santa will return. Because once you believe...he will always return.
And as John and Lacey hugged their daughter and encouraged her to get some sleep, the tearful 12-year-old wrapped her arms around her mother and softly sobbed "goodnight Santa."
And Why It Matters
Parents want the very best for their children, perhaps reflecting on their own childhoods and hoping to give something better to their offspring. The story of Santa is so very sweet--Santa is a benevolent person who bestows gifts to boys and girls throughout the world--because he loves them.
Little children believe this. They enjoy this. And it gives them happiness.
However, there is also the real world--a world full of disbelief, sadness, and...reality. Our children yearn to grow up, to soar, to become independent...to move away from "us" and to become "them". They reach for the next star.
Our children rejoice in looking forward--to growing and expanding and BEING. But we, as parents, although we want our children to grow, we also cling to the joy of having these precious little innocent people in our lives.
Every step they take, every milestone reached, every real or imaginary mountain climbed is one step further away from us. Our children yearn to be adults. And we as their parents yearn to hold them close, just one day longer.
© 2015 Linda Lum