I stood in the parking lot waiting for my mother tounlock the car door. I had wrestled with a question all day, and though I triedto think of other things, I could not put it out of my head. Is there really aSanta Claus?
I had just had the most horrible day of my fourth-gradecareer. My classmates and I were ecstatic about the approaching Christmasvacation, and energy was abundant as we worked on our holiday projects. While Iwas studying the masterpiece I planned to give my parents, I heard the mostterrible sentence. The words rang in my ears: "There is no SantaClaus!" I was stunned and hurt; I did not understand how it waspossible.
Those words stayed with me all day. The more I thought about thepossibility of Santa Claus not existing, the more likely it seemed. But, I triedto rationalize the situation. There was no way Santa did not exist, since many ofmy presents were signed by him. The milk and cookies were always eaten onChristmas morning, and even the unwashed carrot my brothers and I left forRudolph was gone. But I thought about time travel, and then I knew - no matterhow much I wanted it not to be true - that Santa did not exist.
Why wouldmy parents lie to me? For all ten years of my life I had believed in Santa Claus.I was devastated to think my parents would fabricate such a wonderful story andnever consider how awful discovering the truth would be. It was all a lie - theletters I sent each year, the cookies, the reindeer footprints, even my giftswere all just part of a fantasy. I knew I would never be able to recapture thejoy of waking up Christmas morning to find Santa had been there.
Iwaited as my mother fumbled with her keys. The cold wind whipped around my body,but I was numb. I could not wait any longer. I blurted out, "Mom, is therereally a Santa Claus?" Her stunned expression confirmed what I had dreaded.It was true - Santa Claus did not exist. I waited through an explanation as mymom carefully chose her words, but I did not hear what she said. I began to cry,then noticed she was crying too. We both knew I had lost something veryspecial.
I do not remember the ride home, everything was a blur.My head was spinning with thoughts and emotions. I went to my room, hurt anddisappointed. I wanted to be alone.
I know she told Dad about ourconversation, because he came to talk to me. To my surprise he said, "Istill believe in Santa." I did not understand. My father, a grown-up, didnot know the truth? I thought, Oh no, Mom is going to have to tell him too! But Iwas wrong. "Santa Claus is not a real person, but he is the spirit ofChristmas, and if you truly believe in your heart, then he does exist," mydad told me.
I thought about it and decided my dad was right. I wouldalways believe in Santa Claus because I never wanted to lose the magic ofChristmas. That day, my definition of Santa Claus changed. I knew my parentscrept downstairs every Christmas Eve and placed presents under the tree. I knewmy dad ate the milk and cookies, even the carrot left for the reindeer. Iunderstood why my mom's handwriting looked so much like Santa's. The mystery oftime travel and entrances through chimneys had been solved. I no longer thoughtof Santa as a person who delivered presents to boys and girls, but as agift-giver who shared the gift of joy and hope with those who believed.
Igrew up a little that day. I lost a special part of my childhood, but I alsogained the knowledge that faith is something strong inside me.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.