I remember the moment I found out that jolly old St. Nick was more an idea than a physical person shimmying down a chimney to deposit presents underneath the tree. First clue, we didn’t have a fireplace.
I can’t remember exactly how old I was, probably elementary school age. The night before Christmas I could never fall asleep, which is probably the way of most kids. I remember hearing noises coming from the far side of the house and the screen door off the carport slamming from time to time. As I inched closer to the bedroom door to investigate the ruckus, I remember hearing my dad ask my mom – not quietly enough apparently – where she wanted him to put the presents.
The thing is, I can’t remember being too terribly upset. Christmas was, and still is, wonderful at my house. It’s a time of happiness, silliness, love and giving.
I think Santa still lives on in us, regardless of whether you actually believe – he appeals to the hope and imagination of young and old alike.
Perhaps this editorial for the Sept. 21, 1897, issue of the New York Sun says it best.
Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial. The work of veteran newsman Francis P. Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.
“Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would the world be if there were no Santa Claus. …. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.
“Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men see. … Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
“A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”
Happy holidays to you and yours!