The beautiful things about kids is that you can tell them anything and with their innocent spirits, they’ll believe it… for a while. Well, this is how it was when it came to Santa Claus. I was probably in my late teens before I discovered (to my utter consternation) that while Santa is a real, flesh, blood and bone person, he doesn’t fly through the sky with reindeers pulling his sleigh. Actually, when I was a child no one ever told me that Santa rode through the sky in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. I saw that picture later in life, and I’m not sure (even as simple as I was) that I would have believed something that far-fetched… perhaps.
Well, anyway, I don’t think I ever heard that Santa comes down a chimney. If I had, I’m not sure I would have believed that one either. I don’t recall that our parents taught us “fairy tales.” They simply played up the idea that a goodly man named Santa Claus visited houses where little children lived and left them toys at Christmas. Of course, that was good enough for me.
So, for a good part of thirteen years, that’s what I believed and had no reason to believe anything to the contrary, until one day when I was in junior high school, I had an animated discussion with one of my city-slicker classmates. I can’t remember what grade we were in then, but the conversation must have gone something like this: “What are you getting for Christmas?” Jackie asked me. I said, “I hope Santa Claus brings me…” naming whatever it was that I wanted. By this time she had this silly look on her face and with her head cocked sideways, she stared at me and said, “Now, I know you don’t still believe in Santa Claus.” I got a little frustrated as I stated, “I do believe in Santa Claus.” She laughed and said, “Girl, there’s no such thing as a Santa Claus. That’s your Mama and your Daddy putting those gifts under the tree and pretending that some man came in there at night and left them.” She was laughing as I stood there with a blank look on my face.
From what I remember, that ended the conversation, and from that point on, I started sneaking around and asking questions from other kids who had lost their belief in Santa. Well, I found quite a few, but it was the most disappointing bit of news I’d ever heard in my life – no Santa Claus? Bah humbug! That was it for my childhood reveries about gifts under a tree and kindly, old Saint Nick.