I was six years old the Christmas I first started questioning the reality of Santa Claus. When I spied him on the downtown street corner or sat in his lap at the department store, I began to detect differences in his appearance. Sometimes his beard was snowy white, sometimes not. Sometimes it was longer, sometimes shorter. He might be wearing glasses or he might not. I reasoned that, possibly, the real Santa had helpers, who were assistant Santas, since he could not be everywhere at the same time. Christmas time was his busiest time of the year, so of course, he needed help. I was willing to give him that.
But there were those thorny issues regarding traveling round the world in one evening, entering houses that had no chimney, and fitting all those gifts into just one sleigh. I was on the verge of giving up my belief in Santa Claus.
Christmas Eve rolled around, and my family went to the Christmas program at our church. Even my dad went, which was pretty remarkable, as he always left the church-going to my mom. But this time, we all went together–Mom, Dad, my sister, and me.
We entered the small church and found our seats. The room was dark with lights pointed at the stage. The folks who usually directed the song service, collected the offering, or taught Sunday School had become shepherds and wise men and angels. Sure, they were wearing bathrobes and sheets, and a lot of the celestial glitter was due to aluminum foil, but the music of carols, and the story of Jesus being born in a stable, in order to come live with us, transformed it all into reality. The utter truth of the story overwhelmed the stuff of the telling. The tale of the baby who came to love us caught and held me.
When we got home that evening, and I walked into the darkened living room, there, under the sparkling tree, where earlier there had been nothing, were toys-a panda bear, a double-gun and holster set.
I had been on the brink of aligning myself with the evidence against Santa. I had begun to suspect that Mom and Dad were the ones who answered my Christmas wishes. That was the explanation of possibility that was beginning to demand my allegiance. But Mom and Dad had both been at the Christmas program.
My doubts whispered, one more time, that it could all be cleared up with an ordinary explanation. I didn’t ask for one, because Christmas should never be ordinary.
Merry Christmas from Paula J