The email I read that day alerted me that a young mind was busy analyzing information which was affecting her perception of the fabled holiday figure I knew as Santa Claus or Saint Nick, other names around the world. The message said several young minds had been exchanging observations, reasoning with increasing skepticism as to whether or not this jolly old man really existed.
I was told I should be prepared for possible intense questioning, since the previous holiday there had been, unbeknown to any of us at the time, serious scrutiny of handwriting samples on gift cards. Of special focus were those from Santa, Mrs.Claus, Saint Nick, The Elves, The Reindeer (by name, of course,) and Grandma and Grandpa. My handwriting, especially, and that of the fabled white whiskered one were suspected of being surprisingly similar, the message concluded. Being forewarned with this email alert provided me an opportunity to be forearmed so I would not be taken unaware.
Some weeks would pass before a face to face encounter would occur, so I had time to ponder the gravity of this situation and how best to address the matter. I reflected back to the time I had taken the initiative, explaining to my young children (including the mother of the present young skeptical mind,) the reality of the Santa story. I had emphasized the spirit, intent, and meaning symbolized in the character and the story, while minimizing the commercial aspects even then increasingly exploiting children and adults each year. I stressed an intent to keep enjoying the joyous spirit of that holiday season, which they could enjoy with us if they so chose.
Interestingly to me, these many years later, I have learned that my discussion of this topic was not remembered, along with a certainty information regarding the truth of Santa's physical existence was learned later, from friends. Personally, I think a decision was made by my children on some unconscious level to continue enjoying the spirit of that story as I explained it, or maybe their denial just set in, because we had continued to "play the game," which I persist in doing to this day, and long after my little talk.
This present day's situation might well go the same way -- or not. Soon my guests were with me. As family gifts began appearing one by one beneath the tree, I periodically made reference to the white bearded red suited man by name, talked of him making his rounds to fill stockings, possibly more. Also, on occasion I joked about the "naughty and nice" list he kept with the help of his elves. My comments were greeted with a strange little smile or maybe just a "un huh." Once in a while I might catch hushed voices in brief exchange with one another. Later I would be told a furtive questioning glance had been directed at the parental figure, who reported simply shrugging, or mouthing responsive words to the effect "You'll have to ask her" or "You tell her, I'm not going to." The "her" was, of course a reference to me and my persistent reference to this old gentleman as though he really would come to our home.
The eve of that special holiday came and my granddaughter hastened to the computer to seek out NORAD, then began periodically checking Santa's trek from the North Pole. She provided reports: "He's in Peru...now in Florida...now in New York City -- he spends a lot of time there." Then the actual celebratory day came and went, along with some gifts bearing tags from none other than Santa. Not one question was ever raised regarding his existence.
I learned later that my granddaughter offered several explanations upon questioning, as to why the subject of Santa had not been broached. Basically what was revealed was that Grandma was perceived to be enjoying this story so much, my granddaughter just couldn't bring herself to spoil Grandma's fun. So, this encounter I had anticipated did not happen after all, perhaps due to my granddaughter's compassion, or because she thought I still believed in Santa and did not want to ruin the holiday for me.
But, you see, I do still believe in Santa -- the spirit of the season, and the goodness in all mankind that spirit symbolizes.