Santa will soon be making his annual trip, so tonight I’ll share a little story I wrote several years ago. A true experience underlies the fiction. Merry Christmas!
THE CASE FOR SANTA
Madelyn F. Young
Lisa felt her phone vibrate and retrieved it from her pocket. Glancing at caller ID, she shut off the vacuum cleaner. “Hi, there.”
“Hi, Mom. Have Michael and Ellen talked with you about Santa Claus this year?” Meredith’s voice sounded edgy.
Lisa paused. “Well, yes. Michael did mention they were not going to play Santa with Katie. He said something about them not wanting to lie to her.”
“I know! Isn’t that ridiculous? She’s only three years old, for heaven’s sake. What did you tell him?”
“I think I told him that was certainly their decision to make, but we might still slip up and mention Santa when they’re here at our house. In fact, I already have tags on some of Katie’s gifts that say ‘From Santa.’”
“What did he say to that?”
“He didn’t object too much—said she couldn’t read them anyway, so it wouldn’t be a big deal.”
Meredith pressed the issue. “But, Mom! You know we will be there too. What if Katie says something to Claire about there not really being a Santa Claus? There’s no way I want our daughter to have her belief in Santa ruined. That’s one of the most magical things about Christmas for children. I can’t believe my own brother is going to deprive little Katie of all that excitement.”
Lisa had to admit she was disappointed too. She adored both of her granddaughters. Born only eleven weeks apart, they always enjoyed playing together. Last Christmas, their parents brought the toddlers home for the holidays, and Santa delighted them with many gifts. This year, Christmas would be much more complicated.
Lisa tried to soothe her daughter’s feelings. “Well, I think we can all go on like everything’s the same. Katie is still too young to understand much about Santa. Next year we may have more of a problem.”
“Yeah, I’ve already thought about that,” Meredith said. “But this year could be bad too. I’m going to call Michael and Ellen and insist they tell Katie not to talk about Santa Claus around Claire.”
“Well, be careful. Try not to sound too judgmental. They only want to make sure Katie isn’t disappointed with them later on. Michael said they wanted her to know that whatever they told her would always be true.”
“Okay,” Meredith said. “I promise not to rant too much, but I still think they’re way off base on this one.”
After their conversation, Lisa wasn’t sure what to expect on Christmas morning. However, when the day arrived, her two grown children seemed careful not to provoke each other—at least, not in her presence—and no problems arose when Katie and Claire opened their gifts.
Their little faces beamed. Lisa felt her shoulders relax, and she knew she could enjoy the day.
A year later, when Christmas rolled around, the case for Santa still remained undecided. The girls’ parents reported their four-year-olds were much more tuned in to all the Santa talk at preschool where they sang “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and other Santa songs. At the mall they saw long lines of children waiting to sit on Santa’s lap.
Meredith said she and Stan took Claire to see Santa, and she happily perched on his knee, confiding in him everything she wanted for Christmas. Lisa looked forward to the photo.
“But, Mom, I feel so sorry for Katie,” Meredith said. “Honestly! Why can’t Michael and Ellen just let her be a child!”
When Michael called, he explained what he and Ellen had told Katie. “Many children like to make believe Santa Claus is a real person, but Santa is only pretend,” they said. “Mommy and Daddy will give you your presents, not Santa.” But Michael also said they cautioned Katie to be kind and not spoil other children’s fun.
Even so, Lisa worried. What might happen when Katie and Claire were together? And what about presents this year? Should they be from Santa or not?
Several weeks before Christmas, Michael called again.
“Hi, Mom. Guess what? I think the problem of Santa is solved.”
“Really?” Lisa laughed. “That’s great! What’s going on?”
“Well, the other day, Ellen and I mentioned we were going to put presents under our tree before coming to Nana’s house. There would be some for Katie, but they would be from Mommy and Daddy. We would all open our gifts together here before making the trip. When we told Katie our plans, she frowned, like she was thinking hard about that, and then she said, ‘No, I want some presents from Santa too.’”
Lisa smiled. “My goodness. What did you say?”
“Well, I’ll have to admit that comment surprised us,” Michael said. “We knew she understood Santa wasn’t real. So we asked her about that. What she said was, ‘I want to make believe about Santa too, like the other kids do.’”
“Bless her heart.” Lisa laughed. “She must have thought she was missing something.”
“I guess so,” Michael said. “Anyway, Ellen and I have decided it will be fine for her to pretend. We’ve told Katie, ‘All right, then. You can have a few presents that come from Santa, and, if you want to, we can even have some Santa gifts at Nana’s house. When Claire opens her presents, you can open some too.’ She really likes that idea. So, Mom, I guess you’re off the hook.”
Lisa laughed. “Well, that does make things easier. You be sure to give her a big hug from Nana, and I’ll see you soon.”
Lisa clicked off the phone and grinned. Thank you, Santa.