Do you remember when you learned the truth about Santa?
Was it a precise moment?
Or was it a creeping doubt that finally snuffed out the part of you that believed?
For me, it was a precise moment. It was in the parking lot of the Akron store in Hollywood, which I vaguely remember as an imports place, specializing in housewares.
I was 7 or 8, or maybe even 9 –old enough to know better, anyway.
My dad, my brother and I had gone Christmas shopping. With our packages in tow, we were returning to our Chevy Vega hatchback when Dad made a remark about Santa. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I do remember that my brother, who was three years older than I, responded by saying,
“Oh, c’mon Dad, little sister already knows there’s no Santa.”
Both Dad and Todd looked at me.
I smiled weakly.
Oh my god, I thought.
“Sure,” I mustered. “I knew that.”
Oh no. OhnoOhnoOhno. No Santa?
Alright, so the handwriting in Santa’s thank-you note, left beside a partially eaten plate of cookies, looked suspiciously similar to my Dad’s handwriting. But, still.
Man. I felt a little foolish and a little bereaved.
I made it through that Christmas, and the next and the next, with the understanding that “Santa” was really the spirit of generosity, but I never completely discounted the existence of the man in the pointy, red hat.
I figured, Hey, who am I to say?
Yesterday, I re-read the original editorial piece by Francis P. Church in response to 8 year-old Virginia in the old New York Sun via Newseum (see sidebar).
I was vindicated.
So, I’m outing myself:
I’m educated, discerning and, by some counts, sophisticated;
I pay taxes, I vote, and I believe in Santa Claus.
In fact, I don’t entirely trust people who don’t believe in Santa.
It’s arrogant to pronounce something “real” only if one can perceive it with one’s limited, physical senses.
Since when is Empiricism a foolproof science?
The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see, he writes…
Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
Think about it.
We can’t directly perceive radio waves using our human senses, but we’re fairly sure they exist due to other indirect ways of detecting them (such as using a radio receiver).
Similarly, we can’t see the wind directly, but we can infer its existence from its effect: the trees dance.
How great a leap is it, then, to infer the existence of Santa from the children who dance in his wake?
That’s proof enough for me.
I suspect Todd would agree.
Santa, in Sanskrit, means peace. May it prevail on Earth and in the hearts of all.