Letter to Santa
December 24, 2010
My daughter will be 9 in a couple of days and her belief in Santa is at its end. She’s trying hard to believe but common sense, and her younger brother Ed [(6) who saw right through Santa from the beginning] have undermined her unjustified belief.
She wrote this tender letter and left it for Santa tonight:
This year is busy and we will have to visit (family) right after Christmas so, I would very much like to see you! If I don’t come to you could you please come to me? I am upstairs and very close to the stairs. You could give me something for proof or I could see you. Goodbye!
Disbelief is a normal thing for a child to go through, it’s a sign of growing up. I have no doubt that some day she’ll be old enough to believe in Santa again. Probably right around when she has her own children.
The whole family got together and watched the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol. The kids kept asking, “Dad, is this true?” I tell them that it’s true in all of the important ways, and a fable in the unimportant ways.
That’s Santa in my view. He’s not real like my car in the driveway is real. But my car also isn’t real in the way that Santa is or was. My car can’t make someone jolly, but Santa’s image can. As I drive down the street and see it crowded with parked cars, I don’t get all happy inside. But even the tackiest plastic Santa in the front yard makes me say “HO HO HO!” I don’t get to say “HO HO HO!” any other time of the year, so that’s some powerful magic.
Santa is an important myth for civilization to carry on. He’s like a great toy that only children get to play with. When my kids play robots and tigers I always address them as robots and tigers. What kind of mean person reminds them, “You’re not a robot. You’re not a tiger.”
Santa’s depiction has changed over the years, so in all likelihood he will evolve into a thin, non-smoking vegetarian who reminds children to recycle and that they are just evolved, meaningless molecules. Then all of the skeptics will herald him as a great figure for all children to believe in. That’s when I’ll write my goodbye letter to Santa.