In our old Pontiac, I sat in the back in the passenger seat because that’s how you “should” sit in the fourth-grade class. I would accompany Dad shopping around town.
The kids tell me Santa doesn’t exist! — Reflections.
At least, that’s what I told him. It was the first time I got to be with him without having to explain why I had to ask him a question that had been on my mind for the past two weeks or so.
—Dad,— I said as I started. And then I stopped.
—Some of the students at school are saying something and I know it’s not true.
The struggle I was fighting to control the tears that were gathering menacingly at the inner corner of my right eye — which was always the one that wanted to cry first — made my lower lip tremble.
What’s wrong, Punkin?
I could tell he was in a good mood when he called me that.
—The children claim that Santa Claus is a fake. A tear almost came to my eye.
—They call me a fool for still believing in Santa Claus and say it’s something only children do. I noticed for the first time a tear in the inner duct of my left eye.
—But I take them at their word. Santa Claus exists. He does exist, Dad, doesn’t he?
Up to that point, we had been traveling down Newell Avenue, which was then a two—way street lined with oak trees. Dad watched my face and my posture in response to my question.
He parked the car after turning to the side. His youngest daughter was still hiding in a corner when he turned off the engine and approached me.
Santa Claus exists!
—Patty, the kids at school are wrong. Santa Claus is a real person.
I sighed in relief, saying, — “I’m sure he is.”
—However, I have to add one more detail about Santa Claus. You look old enough to understand what I’m about to tell you. Have you prepared yourself?
Dad smiled sweetly and had a warm gleam in his eye. I trusted him completely, so I knew he had something important to tell me and I was prepared. He has never cheated on me.
—There was once a person in real life who went around the world giving gifts to worthy children wherever he went. Although he had many different names and resided in numerous nations, his core beliefs were universal.
—In the United States he is known as Santa Claus. He embodies the spirit of unwavering love and the desire to spread that love by giving sincere gifts. When we reach a certain age, we learn that the Santa Claus we know and love is not the one who enters our homes on Christmas Eve.
—In your heart, mine, Mom’s and the hearts of all who believe in the joy of giving to others, the real-life and true spirit of this magical elf will live on forever.
The true meaning of Christmas is more giving than receiving
—When we realize this and accept it as part of ourselves, Christmas becomes more beautiful and magical because we understand that when Santa Claus lives in our hearts, the magic comes from us.
Do you understand what I am trying to say?
I had a tree in front of me in my entire field of vision as I looked out the front window. Dad had always assured me that Santa Claus was real, so I was afraid to look at him.
I wanted to keep my previous belief that Santa was a big elf dressed in a red suit, as I had done the year before. I didn’t want to grow up and learn to see things differently.
—Look at me, Patty.
Dad was waiting for me. I turned to look at him and I did.
He was crying too!
Tears of joy. His face was lit up by tens of thousands of galaxies and I could make out in it the eyes of Santa Claus. A real Santa Claus. The person who took his time to carefully select the special gifts I wanted for Christmas since I first arrived on this planet.
The Santa who drank the warm milk and consumed my masterfully decorated cupcakes. Who probably consumed the carrot I left for Rudolph.
Who on Christmas mornings rode tricycles, trains and other trinkets despite having no mechanical ability.
I realized. I could identify with happiness, generosity and love. Dad gave me a warm hug and held me in that position for what seemed like a very long time. We both sobbed.
—You are now a member of a very exclusive club,” Dad continued. —From now on, you will celebrate Christmas all year round, not just on one particular day. Santa Claus now resides in both our hearts, mine and yours.
—You should fully cultivate this giving spirit as part of this Santa Claus life. Now you understand that Santa Claus cannot exist without people like you and me keeping him alive, making him one of the most meaningful events in your life.
Do you think you can do it?
My eyes were probably shining with excitement and my heart was bursting with pride.
—Naturally, Dad. As it is in your heart, I want it to be in mine. Dad, I love you. There’s never been a better Santa than you.
—When the time comes for me to tell my children the truth about Santa Claus, I pray the Christmas spirit will help me to be as eloquent and loving as my father was the day I discovered that the real Santa Claus doesn’t wear a red suit.
And I hope you will be as open—minded as I was that particular day. You have my full confidence and I have faith that they will be.
With information from Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen | Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit