Each year I become a bit more melancholy at Christmas. Perhaps it is a condition of age, but I realize how this season marks endings and beginnings. I clearly recall the year my mom finally admitted there was no Santa Claus. I was eleven. I held on to the last little hope that Santa was real. I believed my parents would never tell such a lie.
My friends on the school bus would chant, “ Santa isn’t real and if you believe he is; you are STUPID!” Hearing this news caused my heart to collapse. I got off the bus, climbed the long, hill to my home, and cried all the way. I burst into the door and asked, ”Is Santa real?”
My mother said her usual pat answer, “If you believe he is, he is.”
“No, that is not an answer....tell me the truth.”
“ Sandi, Santa is a belief. If you want to believe, than do it, if not, don’t.”
Now that was not too reassuring, so I suspected the kids on the bus were the truth makers and my mom had lied to me all these years.
I went to my room and cried and cried. I had lost a belief. It was a horrible loss. I then suspected my parents weren’t really my parents and God was not real.
I realize most kids don’t have such a dramatic reaction. With my personality, whatever I do or believe, I do it with vigor, intensity, and full commitment. It took my mom a couple of years to convince me that she was really my mother and the belief in Santa made Christmas more fun for children. I asked her about God.
“Of course, God is real. No one could make Him up,” she said. That explanation just didn’t get it. Doubting was my new middle name. I listened to Bible stories at Sunday school and asked the teacher how she knew they were true. My weekly inquiries must have exasperated her, but I just didn’t want to be bilked again.
This inquiring journey continued many years. In fact, it is what saved me from a college professor trying to convince my Comparative Religion class that Creation and the resurrection of Christ were myths created by the Christian community. I doubted what he said and continued to seek the truth. It was a long and difficult uphill path to discover my belief in Christ, His resurrection, the trinity, the presence of miracles today, the power of healing, and that Father God was truly my Creator. It has taken countless hours of Bible study on my own and in groups. It created the capacity to meditate and talk to God about what was real and what was not. That false belief of Santa created in me the capacity to always have an inquiring mind.
Here I am over sixty years later still confirming, studying, and inquiring. I do know my beliefs and the reality of Christ Jesus. I chose to place little emphasis on Santa when the boys were small. I think their grandma and neighbor encouraged their belief, but not me. They seemed to have a healthy reaction when they discovered the truth.
Santa suits are put to rest, and Christmas decor will soon find its place in boxes in the attic. The rush of the holidays have calmed, and I savor the fun we had as a family coming together for tasty meals, cookies, and gingerbread men. We played card games, and sang to the melody of our youngest son strumming his guitar. We giggled at the granddaughters’ “awe” as they opened their gifts. At church on Christmas Eve, I dabbed at tears that rolled down my cheeks. These were grateful tears because I was sitting with my entire family. As I listened to the reading of the holy story of the Christ child, I knew I had found the total truth.