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The Santa Quandary

December 24, 2014

biker santaThis will undoubtedly be my ten year-old daughter’s last year as a believer in the fat man in red. She’s already informed me that apart from her usual letter to Santa, she’s written him a secret letter, just in case her friends at school are right and Santa is, in fact, a big sham perpetrated by her parents.

“You think Santa doesn’t know what you’re up to?” I asked her.

But she wasn’t buying it.

Already, she’s decided that the Tooth Fairy is bogus, the Easter Bunny is “SO obviously” her mom and dad, and don’t even get me started on leprechauns and St. Patrick’s day. This one I actually made up. Not the leprechauns part, of course, but the fact that chocolates fall out of leprechaun’s pockets as they scamper around the yard early morning on St. Paddy’s Day. Don’t ask me why I invented yet another fictional creature that I now have to masquerade as – dropping chocolates all over our grass at some ungodly hour every year on March 17th – but there you have it.

char tooth fairy

I have to be honest, at this point I’m not really all that sad to see Santa go.

I’m ready. Even if I have a 7 year-old who, technically, still believes. After my son, the oldest, stopped believing I could feel the whole Santa thing losing steam in our house. Like a pinhole in a balloon. I think we only kept up the ruse because the above mentioned middle child has always been an ardent believer in magic. While she hates church and has expressed skepticism and sometimes downright hostility to our Catholic faith, large bunny rabbits who hide eggs and fill baskets with chocolate, portly saints in Finnish snow suits, and tiny, red-bearded men in green have never bothered her.

And now that she’s getting ready to make the jump from magic to realism, there isn’t much there there, if you know what I mean? Especially since our youngest child has only a passing interest in Santa Claus.

She doesn’t care who delivers her presents as long as she gets some.

depressing santa

I know a lot of parents see this transition as a huge loss. I’m sure I’ll be one of them down the line. The Santa years have been magical. I’ve loved hiding my kids’ presents at a neighbors house, then waiting up until midnight on Christmas Eve to trudge over there and retrieve them. I’ve loved the unbridled delight on my children’s faces Christmas morning, the half-eaten cookies and footprints around the tree. One year a family of deer must have tramped through our yard and their hoof prints in the light snow became a holy site for our son. At least until the fifty degree weather melted them away.

When our kids were really little – as in, they’d swallow any fib we could concoct – we went so far as to convince our two eldest that they’d taken a ride on the Polar Express for Pete’s sake. My husband printed two golden tickets off of his computer and we tucked them into our children’s pajama pockets, stamped with the words “believe.”

polar express tickets

But I’m ready to make the transition from Santa Claus, aka, it’s all about me, to Christ and the spirit of what Christmas is all about. I’m ready to start asking my children to give, and they’re ready, too. I can see it in how short their lists have become, compared to other years. I hear the change in the way prayers are said before meal time and bed. The intercessory prayers that used to be a staple – please, God, help me guess how many jellybeans are in the jar so that I can win that gift certificate to GameStop – have begun to fade away. Instead, their conversations with God have become increasingly peppered with moments of gratitude – “thank you for the love in my life, and for the Dairy Queen Blizzard mom bought us after our cross country meet. Thank you for a home.”

It is a glorious transformation – like watching the sun rise. Even our little agnostic has taken up the cause.

In that spirit, I’d like to say thank you, God, for Blessing me beyond reason with love, purpose and a sense of meaning. A life without those things is sterile and literal. Rational to the point of aimlessness.

And thank you for helping me believe. I know it hasn’t been easy.



From → faith, family

  1. Your post has left me with many mixed feelings and I haven’t had to “deal” with the Santa, Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny issue in years. My only child just turned 37. I am almost 58 and yet, I still believe. The magic and beauty of that part of Christmas remains. I watch Santa fly around the globe on NORAD and it is just me, no kids around. You see for me the magical beauty of this part of Christmas is rooted in my very deep faith in God and the amazing gift he gave us by sending his son to save us. Believe! Yes, believe and I do.

    In my family there was receiving but Christmas was always really about the giving. As small children we were “Santa” to others, neighbors, friends, relatives and each other. My son was also “Santa” to hundreds of homeless men and women over the years and more foster children and children in my protective services cases than I will ever be able to count. Even as children we were part of “the team” and that made our belief even stronger because we saw what love could do. That is what the magic of Christmas, Santa and the birth of Christ are all about. They are about love, belief, awe and other things so indescribable and deep that I can’t find words for them.

    If I let myself I could write a book about how all of this love and faith tie together but that jolly old elf in red as part of God’s team in making sure that everyone got to celebrate His son’s birthday, just like we were part of the team who helped Santa to meet all of his obligations. As part of the celebration, gifts, Mass and family gathering we always remembered to make a birthday cake for baby Jesus and sang “Happy Birthday” to him because after all He was/is the reason for the season and St. Nicholas was woven into the whole tapestry that simply said, “Believe.”

    • What a wonderful and thoughtful comment. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts…and Merry Christmas. May Santa be good to you πŸ™‚

  2. Merry Christmas and what a beautiful post and transition. This coming from the non-religious.

  3. Your posts are always ‘point on’ and I love them… Hope you can enjoy some of my posts at or Goodreads. Egg Nog and Happiness! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  4. There are very few things on the interwebs that make me look forward to investing my time. Your blog has rather quickly become one of them. Delicious, poignant writing, every. stinking. time.

    Happy Christmas!

  5. I do.l Thanks, BR. Merry, Merry.

  6. Thanks, Victoria. The quality and beauty of your writing has been the standard against which I measure my posts. Thanks for the inspiration. Merry Christmas! I wrote a letter to the non-religious-

  7. Merry Xmas to you and your family and a great 2015! As I said, really enjoyed your Bone Church book and still enjoying your blogs. Been mainly busy writing my own; did series on Xmas songs, etc.

  8. Merry Christmas, Alan – how fun. What Christmas songs?

  9. Blogs on everything from traditional to pop: White Xmas, Rudolph,Night Before Xmas poem’s-the origins; Elvis’ Blue Xmas, Beatles, Jose Felicano, Chipmonks, Snoopy,Jingle Bell Rock, 12 days of Xmas, Little Saint Nick, etc. Wrote over 15 short blogs on, plus photos and videos on G+ and ,of course, on WordPress. Tried to write some little-known stories about you might like. Good to hear from you again!.

  10. This post reminded me of the end of my personal connection to Santa. When I was 11, my 8-year-old brother kept asking my parents if he was real; I didn’t say anything even though I already had my suspicions. After all, I’d noticed the older folks in my family didn’t get as many presents as we did. On Christmas morning my father finally admitted the truth to us. By this point it didn’t matter: we had a new brother who was all of four months old that day. Since he was going to have his own Santa, we two older boys got to get presents from jolly old Saint Nick too. I imagine I was one of the few college students who got up on Christmas morning to see what Santa had left for him (even though he helped pick out a lot of it). Have a wonderful Christmas!

  11. Reblogged this on beyondtheflow and commented:
    Sadly, my days as Santa are over too. I had to confess the other night. It’s been a rough week and in a way I am pleased things have been simplified. Santa has big boots to fill.

  12. Aw, what a sweet story, Victoria! You had me laughing my ass off at the leprechaun scampering around the yard. I’ve always loved magic, so I was a believer for a good while. My dad had this really amazing footprint stamp and glitter thing he did for the Tooth Fairy. That was hard evidence as far as I was concerned. πŸ™‚

    Merry Christmas!

  13. Merry Christmas to you, too, Britt πŸ™‚ Love the glitter footprints!

  14. I do not remember when I stopped believing in Santa, Father Christmas to me. I do remember on my first Christmas in Canada, I was eight, listening for the hoofs of reindeer on our new house and feeling somewhat afraid since our new Canadian house did not have a fireplace so no chimney that he could come down. I had been told this wold not be a problem but you know a child worries about these things.

    Since then I have stopped believing in everything. From Santa, to god and Christ, well everything even science has lost a lot of its magical appeal. Science, and a I love my math and science, my logic told it was the path to understanding, put to death my belief. Then my life experiences taught me science had few answers to the big questions. So now that to is dead, as it were.

    I am now left all alone questioning and hoping some kind sole with Finnish red velvet clothes may yet show up and lead me home.

  15. I don’t think your experience is that uncommon, Carl. I’ve been there, too. Hope you had a good Christmas nonetheless πŸ™‚

  16. christine magpayo permalink

    This post is altogether cute and funny and spiritual. It’s wonderful! πŸ™‚

  17. snapfourandjump permalink

    LOVE the Santa biker! Nice post thanks.

  18. Reblogged this on dcheenaii.

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