Do you remember being back in middle school and there was one kid that still believed in Santa even though they were way too old to still believe in Santa?
Yeah, that was me.
At the ripe, old age of 10, I still believed that Santa Claus existed and would not hear anything to the contrary. Sure, everyone around me became non-believers one-by-one, but they could believe what they wanted. Santa was real.
The odd thing is, I didn’t believe in the other holiday-based fictional creatures for very long. I feel like the Easter Bunny sort of faded into obscurity for me, and I scientifically proved that the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real (an experiment was conducted with a tooth that my mom had kept in her jewelry box and a pillow…the specifics aren’t important).
To be honest, I don’t even remember writing many letters to Santa, except for all of the letters about egg nesting dolls that I wanted from the (since closed) nestingdolls4u.com or the time that I desperately wanted a seahorse. For anyone who’s curious, I instead got a tank and some freshwater fish since saltwater tanks are much harder to take care of.
Like anyone else, however, I was somewhat curious how Santa could do everything that Santa does. As a highly-inquisitive kid, it did seem unlikely that Santa could keep a list of all of the children in the world, know everything that they did, and stop by all of their houses on Christmas Eve. Like, damn Santa.
So I came up with what I thought was a foolproof plan. I decided that next to the milk and cookies for Santa, I would leave a list of questions for him to answer. Santa was magically able to go to every house in the world in one night, right? So he’d surely be able to answer all of my questions! That way, instead of relying on all of the non-believers around me to guess at Santa’s mysterious ways, I would be able to get my answers from the big man himself. Like I said, foolproof.
Now would be a good time to mention that one thing that young Renata and present-day Renata have in common is the need to share wacky schemes with anyone who will listen. One thing that we do not have in common is young Renata’s love for the spotlight. So, having what she considered to be a captive audience in her fourth grade classroom, she interrupted a potentially important class to pontificate about her plan and offered to add any questions from her classmates to the list.
Yes, young Renata had the confidence (and height) of Napoleon Bonaparte…although, this was probably due in part to teachers who would let her get in front of the class and ramble about her hairbrained schemes in the first place.
So I gathered and compiled everyone’s questions until I had a fat stack of papers to leave for Santa. We would see for sure that Santa was real when he left us very reasonable answers to all of our probing questions. I excitedly explained my plan to my mom when she picked me up from school.
My mom, not necessarily wanting to spend the entire night of Christmas Eve answering our questions (and also, I repeat, I was 10), decided to tell me that Santa wasn’t real. The sense of loss that young Renata felt was overwhelming. The most magical holiday of the year was all built around one central figure, and now I was finding out that that figure didn’t exist. It was heartbreaking.
Later, my mom and dad assured me that I could still choose to believe in Santa. Even if he wasn’t a jolly man in a red suit who lived in the North Pole and drove a flying sleigh, he was still the spirit of Christmas, and I could still experience that magic. Like the song from Year without a Santa Claus, even if we’re not kids who believe in the literal existence of the fictional figure, we can still believe in the concept of Santa Claus like we believe in love.
Having Santa taken away from me so suddenly (and feeling embarrassed to be the only kid in my class who hadn’t known the truth until that day), I was resistant to believe in Santa Claus, even in this conceptual sense. It wasn’t until the Polar Express that this changed.
I remember seeing the movie the Polar Express with my mom, grandmom, and uncle back when it was in theaters. When we went to see it, we were the only ones in the theater. It was a fairly normal movie experience, that is, until Santa’s sleigh hit a snowbank on its ascent. This is going to sound crazy, but bear with me…I swear, when Santa’s sleigh hit that snowbank and his sleigh started to rise, I felt a splash on my face…as though the snow had come out of the screen! I looked around to see if there were people in front of us and I hadn’t noticed. Nope, we were alone. There was only one explanation for something like this…it was Christmas magic.
Santa was real.
Of course, I’m sure that there’s a logical explanation for whatever happened in the theater, but I’ve chosen to remember it as a supernatural experience. I’ve chosen to believe in something that I didn’t necessarily think was real, which is exactly how I feel about Santa.
That feeling of Christmas magic is something that I look forward to every year, and Santa is just another part of Christmas magic for me, just like for my family. My dad and I love taking gag pictures with mall Santas every year, sometimes where Santa is crying on Dad’s lap, sometimes we’re pulling candy from Santa’s beard (don’t worry, I’ve provided pics below). We can think of no better way to commemorate Christmas than getting Santa in on some silly fun. We even have a running joke where, while just strolling through the mall, dad tells me that the mall Santa is waving at me so that I look over and wave before I realize that he’s not even looking in my direction (can someone please tell him that this isn’t funny!?).
My dad will still excitedly exclaim “Santa came!” on Christmas morning, even if he spent the entire morning wrapping presents while I sat at the top of the steps (although I’m sure that my dad is grateful for the opportunity to do some last-minute wrapping, instead of crying because the Barbie Jeep that he spent all night putting together won’t run). My grandmom always signs our Christmas gifts from Santa. Even if we know that there’s no man that travels the world once a year delivering gifts by way of flying sleigh, Santa is still the true embodiment of Christmas spirit.
How about you? Do you still “believe” in Santa? What’s your relationship with the big man like?
I hope all of you have a safe and wonderful holiday!