I was 29 the first time I met Santa Claus. I handed him my baby, all decked out in her holiday finest; he smiled, told me how his daughter got roofied at a bar, pat my baby on the head and told me that I should pray that she grows up ugly. Merry Christmas?
I didn’t grow up with Santa Claus. My parents were Evangelical and believed that Santa Claus and people who wrote “xmas” were actively trying to take Jesus out of Christmas—and were probably connected to Satan somehow. My mom told us that Santa Claus was a real person, who was nice, but then he died and people made up stories about him. “And now,” she explained to the squirming couch full of eight children, “people use him to celebrate Christmas, the birth of Christ, without Jesus. We should pray for them. Let us bow our heads.”
I don’t think Santa is a conspiracy to take down Jesus and I don’t believe in fairies ... not technically.
But of course, we were allowed to believe in angels and demons and the secret spiritual war being waged all around us to keep souls out of the burning pit of hell. Because that is way less traumatizing than Santa.
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I like to believe in imaginary things. So, as a child, I also took it upon myself to believe in fairies and ghosts. Ghosts are actually mentioned in the Bible (1 Samuel 28: 7-20, don’t step to this Bible knowledge). And if anyone asked, like a pastor or the concerned parent of one of my church friends, I simply explained that I thought fairies were just little angels sent from Jesus. This averted the anointing with oil, laying of hands and hours of prayer that would have resulted if they thought I was tainted with the occult.
I’m older now. I don’t think Santa is a conspiracy to take down Jesus, and I don’t believe in fairies ... not technically. But I do believe in things beyond myself. Things that can’t be explained. And there is this part of me that resides under my skin that still tingles when I think that maybe reindeer can fly. Truthfully, I want to think that there is magic hidden in walls and under thick blankets of moss (if only you'd listen hard enough). And every year, around Christmas time, the little magic that remains inside aches to be remembered.
Because there is so much about this world that is ugly—Santa’s daughter getting roofied, or real wars waged all around us, not by spirits, but by those we love—and it’s so easy to forget that you once believed in magic and fairies in drainpipes and fat men bringing presents. I want to give that gift to my daughter (that little bundle of joy pictured, above, on our holiday card). That gift of imagination. The gift of being able to believe, even if only for a moment, that the impossible can happen.
So, I’m letting her believe in Santa. He’s so much easier to explain than the burning pit of hell. Although, if Santa brings up roofies again this year, I might just have to explain why mommy kicked Santa in the nuts. And that’s a whole other kind of difficult.