As a parent, I’ve always been a little iffy on the whole Santa Claus bit.
I want my daughter to enjoy that part of life which is magical and whimsical, but I also don’t want to be part of the disappointment when she realizes the truth about Santa. I know, it seems silly to worry about it now, especially when I am surrounded by functioning adults who have all suffered the same disappointment. She will get over it, as we all have.
For the last several years, I didn’t actively participate in the Santa Claus propaganda. My wife, Laura, would remind our daughter, Amelia, that Santa was coming and I remained stoic, allowing her to fill in her own details or answering questions with questions. I never confirmed nor denied. But after today, I am officially changing my tune.
Today, while shopping downtown, we saw a man with a full white beard wearing regular clothes, except for a Santa hat. Amelia froze. He saw her reaction and walked over and asked if she could have a candy cane. When we replied yes, he pulled one out of his pocket and handed it to her as she sat in stunned silence. Luckily, she managed to eke out a thank you.
He wasn’t a guy in a suit at the mall getting paid to shout, “ho, ho, ho!” He was just a guy who likes having a beard on his way to have lunch. He could easily have ignored us, or said, “nope, I’m not Santa.” But he didn’t. He carries candy canes because he knows kids think he’s Santa. The generosity and willingness it takes to be Santa Claus for scores of kids for a month each year illustrates all that Francis Church wrote about in his editorial, Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. So long as that kindness and generosity exists, Santa Claus lives on.
While I understand and appreciate the wish to be honest with your children about everything, one day, Amelia will see what I’m talking about. It may take years of therapy and disappointment, but she will realize “Santa Claus” is alive and well.