Santa's Real Identity

My kids have unwavering faith that Santa Claus exists. This fantasy exists in their minds with little provocation from me. That's the truth as long as you don't count the initial push Greg and I gave their little brains as soon as they were old enough to comprehend the concept of object permanence; when we told them of a magical man who delivered presents to obedient little girls and boys on December 25th. Oh, and you might also want to not take into consideration the occasional pictures with Santa and the whole Christmas list writing Greg, and I instigate. Beyond those points, the Santa Claus thing has been a runaway truck coasting at dangerous speeds down a mountain.

Last year, they didn’t even notice that this wasn’t the same guy as the year before.

Last year, they didn’t even notice that this wasn’t the same guy as the year before.

Whenever Darla and Jude have asked me whether Santa exists, I stare at them blankly, hoping that maybe they'll figure it out on their own so I didn't have to buy two different types of wrapping paper every Christmas to keep the charade going. I, also, would like to avoid future accusations that I've lied to them their entire early childhoods.

"Julia said that Santa Claus is just parents," Darla said incredulously one-night last week. "Can you believe she thinks that?"

'That's very interesting she said that," I responded, pausing to give her the opportunity to make her declaration that Santa doesn't exist. She didn't.

Ever since Thanksgiving ended, I have watched no less than four Christmas movies with my kids. The characters in the films always save Christmas from almost certain death. Most often, the potential tragedies are a result of a grand deficit in Christmas spirit that is making it impossible for Kris Kringle to do his damn job. The instigators of the bah humbugism are mostly parents; more specifically, a recently widowed parent. The movie usually villanizes the single parent who is understandably depressed and cynical at Christmas; the weight of the world's holiday hopes rest squarely on her sagging, exhausted shoulders. Eventually, Santa sends a dog, an elf, or even himself down from the North Pole to guilt this emotionally fragile person into believing in him and his powers. And in the end, the innocent child is the greatest hero because they never lost faith.

The apparent plot hole in these movies, one that my kids never notice, is that, if Santa doesn't exist, then where the hell do all the presents come from? Every December 25th, these families wake up to houses full of wrapped gifts that, ostensibly, the parents didn't buy. With such undeniable proof, even the most skeptical parent could admit that some magical creature who can read our minds exists. My kids don't notice that maybe the parents are skeptical that Santa Claus exists because they bought all those damn gifts the kids in the movie found under the Christmas tree. It was the parents, not Santa, who circled the Galleria parking lot for an hour so they could go to Target to buy the Beyblades and LOL dolls that the kids asked for on December 23rd.

It always surprises me that my kids don't dwell on the subject of Santa long enough to come to the undeniable conclusion that he doesn't exist. When Darla mentioned what her best friend told her, didn't she think that I, as a parent, would be in an optimal position to provide her with a definitive answer? I, of course, don't understand her unwillingness to examine the subject. I live in a dull, unmagical world where the curtain was pulled back to show my the inner workings of this world full of taxes, bills, and obligations.

My kids live in a world that's almost 100% mysterious, and I'm 100% jealous. My kids don't want to know the truth. For them to lose this idea would mean that magic doesn't exist. And then what will they find out next? That unicorns aren't real? My kids' minds flit around the topic because, if they look at it too closely, they might see the much duller, much more depressing reality. They might realize that their parents, with the bloodshot eyes and halitosis breath on Christmas mornings, are the only magicians they'll ever meet.