Question 359 of 365: Should we believe in Santa?

Question 359 of 365: Should we believe in Santa?

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 17:  Skydivers in...
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I didn’t know Santa growing up, or more accurately, I didn’t know him the way that other kids my age did. They were all convinced of his reality, and I was never taught to imagine a world in which a single man could deliver millions of presents and consume even more cookies on a single trek throughout the world. I was asked to think about the origination of Christmas and the gifts were always an added bonus to the season.

I did not believe in Santa then. But, I do now.

I believe in him more than I think I ever could have as a child. A child believes because of what they experience. They are skeptical and logical to a fault. They believe what they see, and because they only see the part of the story that supports the existence of Santa that is what they know.

As an adult, I see the whole story. I know where every toy came from and what it took to earn the money to buy that toy. And as I sat there eating the cookies that my children had placed on the fireplace hearth, I knew that I was not Santa. My wife wrapped the last of the presents and we laid them all out by the tree, knowing full well that those labeled from Santa in the “different” wrapping paper had the same telltale taping strategy as the rest of them. We knew that the handwriting didn’t really look that much different and that our children could wake up at any moment and catch us in the act.

None of this lessens my belief.

I believe in Santa because of the way my daughter’s eyes look when she saw her new pajamas right outside her door, representing the closest that Santa ever got to her while she was asleep. I believe because my daughter wanted to leave out syrup for the Elf on the Shelf’s ride home to the north pole now that his work for the year (of watching to see how our children behaved and reporting back nightly) was complete. I believe because I know I am not the one giving those gifts. Some other part of her brain has engaged and told her that something magical has just occurred. Which, it has.

Santa is the best kind of fairy tale: one that is much more fun to tell when you are in on it, when you are helping to create the story every year and add your own traditions. Somewhere in the middle of realizing that the Disney princesses could be seen by a four year old as an empowered female and seeing just how important stories can be for making sense of the world, I found my belief in a figment of our collective imagination.

It isn’t that I want to lie to my kids. It is that I know the truth. I buy the gifts, but the story of Santa takes away all of the need for reciprocation. He is the way in which we can all be altruistic and giving. We just want to see the glowing eyes shining back at us. And if you believe in Santa the way I do, it can happen every year.

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  1. It’s also a kind of giving that we didn’t come up with. The entire mythos is a communal one. It’s not just tradition, but a gift that we received (in some way or another) and then grew out of. When the time comes, we pull it out of the giant tupperware storage bins we keep our memories in and dust it off to hand down to those who follow.
    And, when we see it being tried on again for the first time, we get to wear it too.

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