When I’d first learned that Santa was nothing but a bright, jolly ho-ho-ing fantasy, I was nothing short of devastated. I could not believe it. Sure, the idea that Santa possessed reindeer capable of defying gravity was dubious. It was also astounding that a single individual could visit the homes of all the world’s children in one night. And checking a list with over a billion names on it? Twice? Forget about it.
In spite of all of the logical flaws in Santa’s legacy, however, my faith in his existence was resolute. I would write elaborate letters addressed to the North Pole asking him about how the elves and his reindeer were faring. I would leave chocolate chip cookies for him whenever he visited. I would get into heated arguments with my friends on his behalf.
“Santa can’t be real. Seriously, how’s he suppose to fit down a chimney?”
“He exists, guys!” I cried in startled rage. How could they not see the obvious?
Except for the fact that my little companions were right. And I was the terribly deluded one. When I finally learned that Santa was nothing more than a glorious lie, I was shocked, appalled, and agonized. It was as if someone had murdered my childhood hero, or worse, claimed that he never existed.
At that moment, I’d wished that my parents had informed me of the veracity of Santa’s nonexistence from the very beginning. I didn’t want these incessant feelings of heartache. Of betrayal. Of bitterness. Why should a rotund, mythical being take the credit for the presents that my parents had bought for me? Where was the sense in that? Why encourage me to believe in something beautiful when it was destined to fall apart?
Looking back on it, though, I’m happy I believed in Santa. A miraculous, jolly old man, dressed in cherry-red, Santa Clause is a veritable symbol of childhood hope and innocence. Just the idea of Santa can inspire awe, love, and elation from children. Why kill it with our adult cynicism and bitter realism? Why not let children dream? To hope for something magical and extraordinary from their lives that are tethered to reality?
Of course, the eventual realization of Santa’s nonexistence will break their hearts in the end, but don’t all beautiful things do that eventually?