My Words

A Jolly Little Secret

A long, long time ago, someone, somewhere, created a man named Santa Claus. If I’d done more research, I could give you a better origin story for the current iteration, but you know who I mean. He’d existed before under various pseudonyms and with varying powers, but this go ‘round they made him old, gave him a red suit, a sleigh, and a herd of reindeer. They gave him a team of helpers, an address no one can find, and they eventually gave him a wife who makes cookies and helps him keep up with his schedule.

They also gave him a job. Every year he was to fill a sleigh with toys – enough to spread around the whole world – and hitch that sleigh to his reindeer and fly out into the night to deliver his packages. Delivery required coming down chimneys or other various means of breaking and entering, and depending on the family being visited, the gifts also had various levels of meaning and expense.

Every year he makes appearances on television, on radio, on stages and mall platforms to check in with children who promise they’ve earned their spot on the good list, while adults fall over themselves to make sure the meetings can happen. And as they pull one screaming, terrified child after another off the knee and past the elf with the tiny candy cane prizes, they smile and wink at each other for keeping up with the secret.

It’s that secret that I see as a miracle. Not just any small miracle either – this one is huge. For decades upon decades, people around the world have kept the secret of Santa. Even people like my little brother and his wife who were absolutely adamant they were not doing Santa at their house because they weren’t going to, and I’m quoting here, “Lie to their child” haven’t missed sitting my nephew on Santa’s knee for the past 8 years. Even during covid times my husband and I were with them when they trapsed through the snow downtown to a small hut where a man with a white beard and a red suit sat behind a plexiglass partition to listen patiently while my nephew outlined what he would like to see under the tree. And we all went along with his excitement afterward, agreeing with him that Santa liked him and would deliver.

It’s miraculous to me that as a people who globally disagree on so many important issues, who battle and belittle, and war with one another 364 days of the year, we keep up the secret of Santa. Each of us a willing participant in the “big lie” to avoid being the one to kill the magic of the fairy tale. Not one of us wanting to be the one who says “Sorry, Walter, there is no Santa Claus.”

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