Brother-Bug is getting to an age where he's going to contemplate The Big Question. Is there a Santa Claus? It's a hot button issue for sure. Some parents feel that the perpetuation of the Santa Claus story is a lie. Some love the magic and willingly play along.
I'm in a different camp. I believe.
But allow me to clarify.
I don't believe in the northern toy factory. I don't believe that I have to be good (phew!). I don't believe that a staff of elves work tirelessly on toys to distribute to deserving children.
I figured out that Santa didn't bring the presents when I was 6 or 7. I was utterly mystified. If Santa didn't bring the presents, and still existed… Well he had to have a purpose, right? I thought about for a long time. I thought about it A Lot.
I figured it out, one long ago Christmas Morning. I woke up too early; a kid excited for Christmas. I was aware of tingles in my fingers and toes, jitters in my tummy. The house felt and smelled different, special. The house felt and smelled like Christmas. “Ah ha!!” my small brain said, “That's what Santa brings!” It's that feeling. That once a year, tingly, etra-special feeling that exists only on Christmas morning. From that moment, by belief has never faltered.
Another mom out there shared this letter that she wrote to her daughter, and I think she nailed it.
“Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.”
We are teaching our kids to believe in a lot of things – seen and unseen. Love. Trust. Their “gut feelings”… These are all intangible. You can't point to it. Some of us are teaching our kids about God and the Divine. Not something you can see with your eyes. We read them magical tales of Fairies and Trolls. Magic is everywhere when you are a kid. To disabuse them of magic is a terrible, terrible thing to do to a child. If Santa doesn't exist, what other intangibles might not exist? That's a dark and scary place that I don't even want to think about.
Santa Claus isn't a lie. He is an Elven King, a Fairy Helper, a Spirit of Kindness, a Blessed Saint, and an Inspiration.
Perhaps it was best and most eloquently stated in the New York Sun in 1897, by Francis P. Church:
I will always believe. And I hope my kids join me.