I sat down to write a story about all things Christmas… but I got bored with my dull ramblings about shopping and wrapping presents. Well, I wouldn’t say it was dull exactly, but more so than the story I’m about to tell. This story piggy-backs a bit on Tim Tebow: A Christmas Miracle, but I promise it is not repetitive…in fact, I should issue a word of caution: If you are a believer, please stop reading.

My family celebrates Christmas, so growing up I heard stories about Rudolph, Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman. I watched the Claymation movies and sang the songs with the gusto of every young child intoxicated with Christmas.

Christmas to me as a child was all magic, sugar cookies and candy canes! I cut out paper snowflakes and made a green and red paper chain to count down the days until Christmas morning. I sat on Santa’s lap at the mall and left cookies, milk and carrots out for him and his reindeer Christmas Eve. I worried about how he was able to visit me when I didn’t have a fireplace and sent him letters containing both my wish list and the explanation that he would need to use the front door… It was what I imagine Christmas is for lots of children.

Until one day, it all changed.

It’s hard to remember whether or not I was in first or second grade…But our story begins sometime in December of 1991 I think. I was in art class, no doubt making some holiday inspired creation to hang on my refrigerator at home, when the topic of Santa Claus came up. See, there were four of five of us to an art table and we began discussing our various Santa encounters and prospects for the year-end event. “I popped over to the big guy’s lap just this weekend,” said Susie, “right after I finished my play date with Molly. He was really pressed for time but made an exception just for me. He said that I have been a good girl this year, so I’m expecting a bonus with my usual Christmas payout.” “Me too,” said Mike, “he said he was extra impressed with how gracefully I handled the arrival of the new kid to our family development department, despite his negative effects on my attention production.” The Santa sharing went on for quite a while, everyone getting their chance to describe their one on ones with the big guy.

Then our happy little group was joined by Lisa, a fellow elementary student.

“What are you guys talking about?” said Lisa.

“Oh, we were just comparing our various interactions with Mr. Claus and what our expectations are for this season’s payout,” I said.

“Really? That’s stupid because Santa Claus isn’t real,” said Lisa.

Immediately, a look of pure disdain crossed my face before I looked Lisa straight in the eye and said “ Nuh huh!”

“You’re wrong, he’s fake. It’s your parents that leave you all those presents every year,” Lisa countered.

“That’s impossible. My parents can’t fly all over the world in one night, how on earth could they be the ones leaving kids presents?” I retorted with confidence.

“No, your parents don’t leave presents for ALL the kids, just you. Everybody’s parents leave the gifts, I can’t believe you didn’t know that.”

“You’re ridiculous! Can you believe this Susie?” I said as I spun and looked to my art cohorts to back my argument.

“I…I don’t know,” said Susie weakly before she grabbed her glue stick and ran to find a purple crayon.

“Forget Susie, I know you are wrong Lisa and when I get home tonight, I’m going to ask my mom and she’s going to say that Santa Claus is real.”

“Ha ha ha ha, that’s fine with me, and then you’ll see that I’m right and you’re embarrassing yourself,” cackled Lisa before she walked away, leaving the group of us stunned with her bold defiance of Santa Claus.

Later that night, after my commute home on the school bus, I walked up to my Mom while she was making dinner and said “the funniest thing happened at school today Mom.”

“Really Pumpkin?”

“Ya, this girl said there isn’t a Santa Claus. It’s ok though because I told her that I was going to ask you and prove that there is a Santa Claus.”

It was then that my Mom stopped what she was microwaving and turned to look at me. The flicker of panic and sudden spike in tension confused me so I repeated my thought.

“Santa Claus is real, isn’t he Mom?” I squeaked out with slightly less confidence than before.

“Do you want me to tell you the truth?” she asked.

It was then, in that moment, my veil of childhood innocence started to drift away. With the remaining hope I was clinging to with my whole being, I began to realize that even if Santa Claus is real, there was going to be a clause to the Christmas arrangement as I knew it.

“I… I don’t know,” I replied, looking into my Mom’s eyes for a sign, a glimmer that would make everything ok.

She looked back at me with sorrow in her eyes, like she was saying goodbye to a dream or a wish that she not only had for herself, but for me as well.

“What do you believe?”

I couldn’t believe it, twice in one day someone was questioning my beliefs but it was this second time that really stung. My mom, the person who had always supported my beliefs and helped me mail the letters, pour the milk and make sure I got to Santa’s lap… she was the one questioning me the second time around. She was prompting me to stop believing with blind faith and ask the tough questions, like how does one man fly around the world in one night?

Seeing the conflict across my face, my Mom took me into my bedroom and sat down with me. We discussed the various aspects of Santa Claus and his magic. We sat and cried together; she told me stories of Saint Nicholas and prompted thought provoking questions. She was slow and delicate, allowing that veil of innocence time to linger and whisper farewells. Each tear that fell from my cheek was a piece of little girl that wouldn’t be coming back…

About an hour went by and the tears were starting to slow. My Mom said “do you want to know the truth?”

Quietly, I considered the question before uttering an almost inaudible, “yes.”

“Santa Claus isn’t real.”

The rest of the veil of innocence was ripped away and left me sitting on the floor of my bedroom crying so hard I could barely breathe.

It was over. The magic, the faith, the belief…it was all over.

After that day, and a few more questions concerning the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, I realized that I now had the responsibility of the adults—to keep the secret. With a little sister, I had to still pretend to believe in Santa Claus and not ruin the magic for her. Additionally, I felt special when I found out that my two older cousins already knew about Santa Claus and how he wasn’t real; I was older and wiser now, part of the club.

The memory of that day still gets to me sometimes though. It’s a tough thing to be a kid and have something created of pure joy end. I think about Lisa and wonder whether she has kids and what she’s told them. I wonder if I have kids, what I’ll tell them…

Either way, at some point every child comes out from beneath that veil and settles into the “real” world. Most days, I’m completely content to live in the real world but for some reason, Christmas is different. It occasionally has me searching for that pure innocence again; to be able to approach the holiday with the same joy and glee… To be anxious with anticipation that something magical is about to happen… Because maybe, just maybe, there is someone else out there capable of even more miracles than Santa Claus….

Merry Christmas Everyone and God Bless,