2:30 AM, I couldn’t sleep. The quiet of the night had been interrupted by air faintly whistling through cracks in the dried and shrunken window caulk. The cold December air formed a feathery layer of frost on the inside glass. I scraped away a small area with my plastic Bowie Knife to reveal the clear night sky. Yesterday’s fresh snowfall now glistened in the starlight, providing a unique contrast between the white of the snow and the dark of everything else.
With a waining belief, I panned the night sky. Common sense had been pressuring me to finally concede that the fat man couldn’t really exist. There was the logistics of the whole thing, how could a guy in a flying sled pulled by eight reindeer land on my roof without me hearing it? There was no way he could visit every house on earth in just a single night. Could anyone really drink that much milk?
There was also the question of how he got inside our house? We had no fireplace, just a six inch metal stove pipe from the fuel oil heater in the front-room. In no way was he going to squeeze down it, much less drag a sack full of presents along with him. The case for Santa Claus was getting weaker by the moment. Still, something inside wanted to believe.
Perched with my elbows on the window ledge and my head in my hands, I stared out into the night like a dog waiting for food to fall from the dinner table. I couldn’t have been the first kid to ever lie awake on Christmas Eve asking himself these same questions. Was it possible that the entire adult world joined forces to orchestrate some cruel hoax on kids?
I found myself teetering on the brink of forever losing my childhood innocence. Maybe there’s some questions a kid shouldn’t ask until he’s old enough to grasp the answer. The whole thing made me wonder what else wasn’t true?
I never really believed in an Easter Bunny, that just seemed silly to me. However I was quite certain that the Boogeyman existed because my older brothers swore on their lives that he lived in the bedroom closet. I’m pretty sure I caught a fading glimpse of him on more than one occasion.
What about all that stuff that was going to happen to me if I sat too close to the TV or didn’t eat my vegetables? Is it true that if I kept crossing my eyes they’d get “stuck that way”? At the gullible age of eight I found myself standing at the crossroads of life.
What would be the consequences if there really wasn’t a Santa Claus? Would it change anything? I think I’d be just as happy receiving toys from my mom and dad as I would from some phantom fat stranger. In fact, it may be better to know that I was receiving gifts from my parents because they loved me and not Santa because I had supposedly been good all year—everyone knew that wasn’t possible. Maybe the whole Santa thing was just a way to teach me to learn to love the One I could not see and accept the Gift I did not deserve.
After all, isn’t Christmas really about recognizing The “gift-giver”?
Photo credit: Marcus Ramberg / Foter / CC BY-NC