The question of Santa Claus comes up every year. We went through it with ManChild and the Drama Queen. I’m wondering how much we’ll get away with with #2 this year. He’s been satisfied in years past with "People who don’t believe in Santa are crazy and don’t get nothing" and it being left at that. He is 8 years old and that’s the typical time that most kids start doubting. There’s always that one brat in school that starts to spoil it as early as Kindergarten.
I did not even question the existence of Santa until I was in the 4th Grade. I will never forget it. Sitting at the cafeteria table at Lipscomb School, my friends Kelly Yearout and Anne Gaines were discussing Christmas. (Even now, I have to remind myself these were 9-10 year old girls. At the time, they seemed much older and oh so wise.) Kelly said to Anne, "I certainly hope this is the last year Julia believes in Santa Claus" (Julia was Anne’s little sister-Kelly & Anne were next door neighbors) as though Julia’s belief in the Man With The Bag had just totally exasperated and worn poor Kelly out. For heaven’s sake…she was the neighbor! Of course, at the time, that didn’t occur to me at all.
I can remember when Kelly uttered those words, my life changed. No Santa?!?! What??? What was wrong with this girl? How could anybody say such blasphemy about Santa? Stupid girl.
I remember going home and questioning the parents. I can’t remember what they told me exactly. Bobbie Jean probably just ignored me, as she often did when I asked such probing questions like where babies came from and if Santa was real. I do remember asking Biff about it and knowing him, I’m sure he gave a philosophical dissertation on faith, belief and the spirit of Christmas.
What I do remember was the whole thing of Santa being real or not eating me alive. I remember going to McHenry Center that weekend and there was a really crappy Santa over there and since the store Santas were "Special Helpers" straight from up North, I thought I’d point-blank ask the Helper.
Interestingly enough, the "Helper" had a thick, southern accent, but, I will never forget him looking me in the eye and saying "If you believe, Santa is always in your heart." He never said "No, there is no Santa" (neither did my parents) but the way he explained believing and as long as you believe it’s real was perfect. Corny and cliched, yes, but, it was good enough for a 9 year old who wanted nothing more to believe that Santa WAS real. This guy was so sincere. It makes me get all verklempt now recollecting it. There was a picture made with that Santa and I wish I had it handy to post.
Frightening that that was nearly 30 years ago. I’m now 37 years old and have been playing Santa for my own kids since 1992. I know that Santa does not come to the house. I know this. Yet, every Christmas Eve, I still look for him up in the sky and listen for him. Still.
I hope I’m still doing that when I’m 90.