The truth about Santa
I'm greatly enjoying a snowy morning here in Bellevue, Washington, sipping tea and thinking about my childhood. Growing up, I had no doubt that Santa was (and is still) real. I also had no doubt that Santa needed alot of help, since there were so many people in the world who deserved presents. The existence of many different Santas around, in the mall, on the street corner, on TV, cemented my understanding that many many people were helping Santa, and that it was okay - any of these Santas could pass my message along to the real Santa, and the job got done.
My Mom loved to play Santa. Every year we received gifts from her under the Christmas tree as well as from Santa, but just one or two from Santa, and lots from her. I remember accusing her of being santa, and she would never deny it, but she'd have a twinkle in her eye. I was comfortable with this. I think that I thought there might not really be a santa when I was around 8 or 9 years old. But every year, under the tree were presents for all of us (Mom too) from Santa!
A couple of weeks ago, after a post about telling your kids the truth, a reader asked about this topic. She wanted to know the happy medium between telling children that there isn't in fact a Santa (there is, by the way, I've met him) and telling them the fairy tale stories. What do we tell our kids about the Easter Bunny? The Tooth Fairy? I think my Mom had it pegged. The joy she had in playing Santa also covered her delight in sneaking in my room early on sunday morning to put my loaded easter basket on the edge of my bed... her tiptoeing to gently slide a quarter under my pillow for a lost tooth.
I knew she was doing these things, and I knew that she was doing it to help the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa.
While I was never told by her not to believe in these Fairy Tales, I was also never told to. I was permitted to make up my own mind. "What do you think?" Was Mom's classic response to my questions. And I'd tell her. And she's say "hmm. Maybe!" I was perfectly satisfied with this.
So I've always believed in Santa. And three years ago this December, I met him. I tried to talk myself out of it, that it wasn't Santa, because it just wasn't possible that he'd be hanging out in the Costco parking lot in Issaquah, in plain cloths, enjoying a hot dog, and greatly. I was a nanny at the time, for 4 children. We'd been doing a lot of talking about Santa, and I'd held firm that I believed in him, and encouraged the children to think about what they thought, and what they believed. Unloading the bulging cart into my tiny Volkswagen Jetta’s trunk, getting ready to strap the kids in so I could put things on their laps as well, I heard someone walk up to us.
“Hi kids!” an older gentleman said. I turned around, protective of the children. He was white haired, with a nice cropped haircut and a soft beard. His eyes were merry and warm, and the children were delighted. “I’m Santa” he said quite simply, and the children, all 4 quiet for the first time that I’d ever seen when they weren’t sleeping, just nodded their heads, gazing at him. I too, felt the tingles traveling up and down my legs when one experiences something remarkable. He handed something to each of the children, a photo. He was posed there in all his red and white and fluffy glory by a Christmas tree with Mrs. Claus.
As we all stood dazed, he said “Merry Christmas!” and sauntered off to his Ford truck, and I imagined he was very pleased with a job well done. I, with tears in my eyes said “see? I told you he was real.” The children, clutching their photos, climbed into the car, loaves of bread and eggs on their laps, sat quietly all the way home. Once there the chatter resumed, the excitement of meeting Santa held them in great spirits until Mom and Dad got home. “We met Santa today!” they told them, and I nodded, and said “yep, we sure did.”
I drove home that evening and know I saw his sled flying across the sky. Santa is real, and so are his helpers.