I shouldn’t be surprised, not in this era of doubt and disbelief, not at a time where presidents cry “fake news” over even a weather report not favourable for golf.
I am not surprised that this vicious rumour has persisted since I was a child. For years now there has always been that bit of hush-hush, nudge-nudge, whenever his name is mentioned.
Yet, there it was, in black and white, a leaflet stapled to the message board on Queen Street proclaiming Santa Claus is NOT REAL. Of course it caught my eye.
It was a detailed document explaining one of the many legends of Santa Clause I have read in my time. I’ve heard, over the years, of Kris Kringle, of St. Nicholas, and even Sinterklaas. In countries around the world, legends vary in size and stature but the good and gracious generosity of this grand fat man in a red suit is universal..
He, the likeness and the mystery, is part of what makes Christmas a time for children. I think of the memories of this most wonderful time of the year. It’s what makes it real.
I believe in Santa Clause. I have seen Santa Clause, and I have been Santa Claus.
I know about the man, and those reindeer, and those elves (some of them by name). Many have, and still do, doubt his existence and much has been written about the persona and the possibility. . . Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
I remember, in elementary school, a boy my age, a friend in fact, explaining this fictional or farcical character could not be. He said the tale was not factual; twas not even logical.
“How on earth in such little time could one man provide gifts to all the children everywhere,” he said with such confidence.
Now, my mom had already explained about Santa’s helpers and the range of shopping mall Santas I began to notice more and more, but they weren’t the answer. I knew.
“It’s magic,” was my response then, as it is now.
Of course, I would later learn that my friend was Jewish, or I would later understand what that meant. and I knew Santa wasn’t a chapter in the New Testament. I learned he didn’t believe in Christmas, so how could he believe in Santa?
I knew I did. I still do. I believe, especially this year, that we all need to give the guy a break. I believe we need to believe.
There’s not been a lot to celebrate on a worldwide scale, and it’s still premature to call the COVID-19 vaccine a Christmas miracle (Christmas is not science). This year, we will not gather around big tables with friends and family recipes like we used to do. We will not share the spirit as we have, or how we would like to.
Main Street corners and shopping malls are desolate, some boarded up, and there are no Salvation Army kettles to collect change for those less fortunate. Everything is supposed to be done online, both the shopping and the charitable giving, but it is not the same.
There is a feeling I count on every year about this time. I’m not getting it without the hustle and bustle of seasonal shopping and it’s not because of the physical distancing (or any devote sense of consumerism). I need the mental and emotional stimulation that comes with Christmas, and with Santa Claus. I like to see smiling faces on strangers and children. I like the little holiday spirit I get from a barista with my morning coffee, even the casual happy holiday or seasonal greeting I get from salesclerks, waiters, and receptionists.
I even enjoy growing tired of the overplayed Christmas music (at least the bad stuff) and listen to my favorites year after year, as I will this year.
But it’s not the same.
This year, more than ever, we need a little Santa. We need to believe, again, in the gratitude of what we have, the precious nature of relationships and the connection with friends and the love of family near and afar. Especially this year as we can’t get as close as we’d like, for as long as we’d like, whenever we like.
We know, or should know or hope, the sacrifices we make this year will mean a safer and happier holiday next year. That’s more than a Christmas wish.
So I looked at this sign on Queen Street, not as an insult, as evidence there are people who still need to believe in the magic of Christmas. Maybe, when this is all over, more people will.
I looked at the sign, and did what any father, or any believer, would do; I tore it down.
It was unsettling enough that I had seen it; I wasn’t going to let another child walk by and question the reality of it all. There is already too much misinformation in this world.