(This was published in 2013, but it still makes me smile. I hope it makes you smile as well)
You probably thought you’d never hear from me again, right? When my older brother blabbed 43 years ago that you didn’t exist, I’m sure you thought Oh no! Another one gone at such a young age! But to be honest with you, I was already beginning to doubt. Even at five I was the sensible one. I wondered how you could get to every house in my neighborhood in one night, let alone all over the world? It wasn’t possible. And there’s no way you could you fit all the toys you had to deliver on one sleigh. Still, I believed, because that’s what kids do. They believe. Then my brother got mad at me. I don’t remember what I did that made him so mad, but it doesn’t matter, does it? What I do remember are the words that ushered from his mouth: Santa’s not real, you big dummy. It’s been mom and dad all along. What a jolt. It was unforgiveable really, except I already had my doubts. I had questions. When he said those words, my doubts evaporated. I had no more questions. I knew the truth. You weren’t real. Just like that, I stopped believing in you. It changed Christmas forever. No more magic.
About three weeks ago, my 11-year-old played the role of my brother and told my 8-year-old: There’s no Santa, doofus. It was a Saturday morning and my wife was at a yoga class, so I had to take this one by myself. I snapped my daughter’s name and gave her the stare—you know the one. She rolled her eyes and said, Well, he’s not real! Oh my. The preteen angst has started to come out, and I think my kids’ puberties may be the end of me.
We were eating breakfast, and I sat my tea down. I was about to raise my voice again, when my younger daughter sat up straight, smiled, and said, It’s okay, daddy. If Santa brings me a Nintendo Xbox 360 with Minecraft, then I’ll know he’s real.
I recognize my little girl may have been playing me like a deck of cards in Vegas, but I don’t believe so. She can’t hide her emotions, and sincerity is her calling card. Of course, I turned away to keep from laughing, and I eventually left the room to let the laughter finally erupt.
Later, when we were alone, I chastised my 11-year-old to not ruin Christmas for her little sister. She blinked once. Twice. Three times. But she said nary a word. Was the innocence an act or did she truly feel guilty? Had middle school ruined her as I feared? I thought about what my brother had done so long ago. I had lost one, maybe two years, of believing in you, and I was bitter about it. Now, as I looked down on my daughter, I wanted to yell at her for my brother’s trespasses. I wanted to let go of the pent-up bitterness I’d felt all this time. But it was wrong, and I knew it. I couldn’t hold my daughter accountable for something my brother did ages ago. It wasn’t right to hold a grudge against him either. He did what older brothers do, and my daughter did what older sisters do. It’s in their nature to impart knowledge, no matter how cruel and passive aggressive.
But I wanted what I had lost. I wanted to believe again. Maybe I said the words, maybe I didn’t. I want to believe. But I felt the words in my heart. A Christmas miracle did happen. I believed. I do believe.
No matter how odd and rare it is for a 48-year-old, I believe in Christmas magic. I believe in Christmas cheer. I believe the Grinch’s heart can grow with the Christmas spirit, and that Scrooge will be visited by three ghosts. I believe Rudolph can save the day and that Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree will be perfect. I believe that Frosty the Snowman won’t melt, and most of all I believe when I wake up on Christmas morning, there will be gifts under the tree for me. As for that, I have a list for you.
I want ten inches of snow on Christmas Day just on the hills near my house so I can go sledding with my daughters.
I want to forget that I’ve ever read Stephen King’s The Stand, John Irving’s The World According to Garp, and all the Harry Potter books, so when I read them next, they’ll be new to me.
I want new knees.
I want my daughters to eat what’s put on the table before them and like it.
I want Harper Lee to publish a novel about Scout as an adult.
I want a year without gun violence, or any violence, in schools and universities.
I want more sleep and less worry.
I want to find one thing every day that I can laugh out loud about.
I want the remaining books in George R. R. Martin’s series A Song of Fire and Ice so I can know what happens (and who doesn’t die).
I want time to slow down as I grow older, so I can stop and smell the roses once in a while.
I want new albums by Led Zeppelin and the Beatles.
I want a dragon to ride to work because wouldn’t it be cool?
I want Washington, D.C. to seem less like Mordor for obvious reasons.
I want my cats to explain to me why they do what they do (and an answer of “just because” will not suffice).
I want to remember more of my childhood. I’m tired of forgetting.
I want to know what happened to the golden Duncan Yoyo that I lost when I was six years old because I still miss it.
And finally, I want a world of hope and wonder.
I will understand if some of the items on this list are out of your reach, and it won’t make me believe in you any less. Life is good. I live a blessed life, and I want others to live a blessed life as well. This is enough for me.
I wish you safe travels on Christmas Eve night, and I will leave a good brew and Rice Krispie treats for you as always.
Believing in you,
Cedrix E. Clarke