Do You Believe In Santa?
My daughter was adamant that we see Santa Claus while we were at the mall one evening. I tried my best to distract her and to change her mind. I had several places I needed to go and wanted to stay on track and was not sure what kind of Santa she would get at this mall.
She is ten now and starting to ask questions like, “Was that Santa real, Daddy?” I was afraid if we stopped by to see Santa he might be some skinny guy with a big pillow stuffed in his shirt with patent leather pulled over his dirty sneakers and a bright white synthetic beard hanging off his chin.
My seven year old twin boys were with us as well and my daughter stirred them up with the thought of seeing Santa, so I had no choice but to swing by his spot in the mall. I was happy when Santa’s helpers told me he was on a break and would be back soon.
“Come on, guys, let’s go, Santa’s not here right now.” I told my kids.
“No, Daddy, I want to see him tonight.” My daughter stood her ground. Not in a defiant way, but in a way that I knew it was important to her.
“Well, let’s go check on your Mom at the store and maybe we will come back before we leave.”
It’s funny as my kids get older, some of my old tricks don’t work anymore. In the past I could distract them with other activities, but not this time. Not only did my daughter not forget, but she knew exactly what time Santa was supposed to be back.
“It’s 7:00 pm, Daddy; can we go back and see if Santa is there?” My daughter pleaded.
I found myself back at Santa’s spot and to my relief he still wasn’t there.
“Well, kids, we tried, time to go home.” I announced to sullen faces staring up at me.
When I turned to head out, I spotted him, a bright red and rotund man sauntering towards us. I did a quick check of the important stuff. His beard was real, a dull gray bristly beard that he obviously had grown for years. He was a naturally heavyset fellow with gold rimmed glasses. He looked legit and I sighed in relief as he passed us by, winked at my kids and sat in his chair.
“I want to go last.” My daughter demanded.
My boys had no problem with that as they pushed each other to be the first to speak with Santa. I could see the tension in my daughter’s face as she waited for the boys to take their turn on Santa’s lap. I could hear my boys chattering up Santa’s ear and took a few pictures of them talking and laughing with him. He was a good Santa based on how he interacted with my boys. I smiled and took my pictures, but I kept my eye on my daughter. I could sense this was a pivotal moment in her basic belief in Santa. I became nervous, how would this turn out?
Finally, Santa looked over at my daughter and grinned, “I believe you are next, young lady.”
My daughter stiffened her back and walked with determination towards Santa. He held out his arms to pick her up and place her on his lap, but she stopped a few feet short of him and put her hands on her hips.
“Before we go any further, I have two questions.” She announced to Santa.
“Okay.” Santa responded.
“First, are you real?” She asked.
Bam! That was the question that made my heart drop. Was this it for us? Was this the beginning of the end for the magic of Christmas for the Rheam family?
“Yes I am.” Santa calmly nodded his head, never breaking eye contact with my daughter. She didn’t budge.
I couldn’t take it. I turned away from the conversation and contemplated my next move. How would I protect the boys from my daughter’s revelation if she determined that Santa was not real. I could hear Santa speaking with my daughter, but I refused to hear the words, I refused to accept that my daughter was growing up.
“Okay, my second question. Did you get my voicemail?” I heard my daughter ask Santa.
I turned and listened in on the conversation.
“Well, I get hundreds of voicemails this time of year. Can you remind me what yours said?”
“I told you I wanted an iPod 5 and a pink limo for me and my friends to drive around in.”
“Oh yes!” Santa laughed and rubbed his belly with his white gloved hands. He kicked his black boots up in the air and rolled back in his big chair. “How could I forget the pink limo! You are the first little girl that ever asked for a limousine, did you know that?”
I could hear my daughter giggle. She moved a little closer to Santa, her hands off her hips now and the tension leaving her body.
“Well, I specialize in toys you know, so I’m not sure about a limo, but I will see what I can do about your iPod 5 and you see what you can do about staying on the ‘nice’ list, deal?”
My daughter turned and jumped into Santa’s lap, a big smile painted on her face. Santa wrapped his arms around her and gave her a big hug. My daughter accepted his love and stared up into his eyes, her smile never leaving her face. I took a deep breath of relief and snapped a few pictures. My daughter’s skinny and lanky legs dangled from Santa’s lap, her feet almost touching the floor. She is getting older for sure, but her eyes gleamed of a child that believes in the symbol of Christmas, at least for another year.
My daughter wanted to believe in Santa that night. She was old enough that questions began to form in her mind about the validity of Santa, but not so old that she wanted to reject the magic of what Santa represents. Yes, she was skeptical when she confronted the Mall Santa, but she confronted him looking for reasons to believe in him.
We all grow up eventually, and the magic of Santa begins to dim, but the desire to believe in what Santa represents never leaves our heart. To me, Santa represents hope. Hope is a powerful symbol. A symbol that men are willing to die for and something I believe burns deep within all of us. We wake up every day with the hope that our day will bring great joy and many blessings and we go to bed with the hope that tomorrow we bring greater joy. Hope is what we cling to in our darkest hours.
When we’re young, Santa fills that desire for hope in our hearts, but where does it go when we grow up? We still have that same desire for hope. So what do we do as our childhood becomes a distant memory and we grow up and face the real challenges of our world?
Ah, this is the beauty of being a Christian, a believer in something greater than anything on Earth and beyond. When I became a believer in the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, I found the beauty and peace in my heart, because I learned of what it felt to have eternal hope.
I remember what it felt like as a young lad sitting on Santa’s lap and dreaming of what he may bring me for Christmas. I’m reminded of that feeling each year as I watch my kids experience Christmas. But nothing can replace the feeling I have now when I sit at the feet of Jesus and accept the ultimate gift given to me as a believer in Christ, the gift of my salvation and the hope of eternal peace. For at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want? Do you believe?