I believe in Santa Claus

“I don’t believe in Santa Claus,” she said in a voice loud enough for every child within 15 feet to hear. “My parents put the presents in the stocking.”

And so I found myself in a parental nightmare scenario: having to explain Santa Claus, or no Santa Claus, to other people’s children.

The girl was in Grade 2 at the time, and she was my daughter’s best friend. It was a minute or two after the final bell rang on the last day of school before Christmas. The children, bursting with excitement, had just charged through the doors to start a two-week break. I don’t remember what prompted my daughter’s friend to make her pronouncement. I just know that when she did, she planted her feet and looked squarely at me, her chin set in challenge, eyes alight, daring me to react.

Every child running past us stopped. They looked at her and then at me to see what I would say. I was in one of those 360º movie pans where the audio dips to a hum while the audience watches to see what the character will do.

I was aware that many of the children around me believed, or wanted to; I was not going to shred their dreams. I also knew that if I didn’t answer truthfully, I would lose all credibility with my daughter’s friend.

Here’s what I said:

I believe in Santa Claus. Santa Claus is the spirit of giving.  If I see someone in need and want to help them out, then I’m the spirit of giving. When you really like someone and want to give them a gift, you’re the spirit of giving. When presents appear in your stocking on Christmas morning, it means that someone loves you enough to be filled with the spirit of giving. That’s Santa Claus.

The spirit of living

Over the years I have read many times the “Santa Claus” argument against a belief in God. Atheists routinely trot that one out. They say that someone’s belief in God is as childish and delusional as a belief in Santa Claus.

I don’t have to believe in a man in a red suit to believe in what is the very best about Christmas—the spirit of giving. I don’t have to believe in a man in the sky to believe in what is the very best about our universe—the spirit of living.

Oh, yes. I believe in Santa Claus. That spirit of giving and living moves and breathes through this holiday season, no matter what faith people have. That is why so many atheists still celebrate Christmas. They feel it, too.

May you find the spirit of giving and living, now and the whole year through.

5 thoughts on “I believe in Santa Claus

  1. Sharyn

    As a child I lumped Easter, Christmas and religion together, along with their representatives – the Easter Bunny, Santa Clause, and God. Raised as a Christian, this is, of course, a logical assemblage of characters.

    As I grew, I learned the truth about the Easter Bunny (very sad), then about Santa (I was the last kid in my neighbourhood to hold onto that belief).

    That left one question: “Is there really a God.” Nobody would give me a direct answer, just mumbled platitudes and evasions. That left me, in my generation, with unanswered questions about a male entity called God.

    In adulthood, like you I came to view the bunny and the guy in the red suits as metaphors for the spirit surrounding in their respective holidays.

    As for the latter, I have no trouble believing in the natural evolution of the universe and the goodness of its inhabitants. For me, that’s God in all its various forms and nomenclatures.

      1. karen

        I overheard two children in my class discussing if there was a real Santa. My little Asian girl did not believe as her mom explained they do not believe – people in China are either Buddists or just non believers. So this little girl in all her wisdom announces to a classmate that there is no Santa or God and that parents just buy gifts. As I am frantically trying to think of what to say to respect both children, a little classmate announces in all his wisdom, “of course there is. I sat on his lap at the mall.” The little girl says, “okay” and that was that…. Gotta love kids and their frankness.

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