Yes, Janet, There is a Santa Claus

Four years ago at Christmas, I was visiting my older sister, who was pregnant. She announced that she would not be telling her child about Santa Claus. I was saddened to hear this, as I remember our childhood Santa Claus rituals with such affection.

Every Christmas Eve; she, my mother, and I would bake pecan sandies and shortbread Christmas cookies. We left a plate of the cookies, with a glass of milk, on a small table by the tree right before we went off to bed (much too excited to sleep, of course). And every Christmas morning, even before we opened our presents, we'd check the plate--on which remained only crumbs, with a short note alongside it from Santa, thanking us for the cookies.

I believed in Santa Claus: the magical man who brought me presents even though he'd never met me, who could find ways to get into our house even though we didn't have a fireplace or a chimney. I was proud of the cookies we gave him, pleased that he ate them all (we left a prety darn big mound of cookies!)

My sister said she didn't want to pass this custom on to her child because she had been so heartbroken when she'd learned the truth about Santa Claus. When she was six, a playmate at school had filled her in on who Santa really was, which my mother confirmed upon demand. My sister cried inconsolably for hours--and then went on to preserve the fantasy for me, her little sister, for another two years.

I wondered what part of the fantasy was so hard for her to lose. Perhaps Santa meant to her, as he meant to me, that there was a person out there in the world who was only magical and good.

Oddly enough, I was not at all upset when I learned the truth about Santa. You see, a part of me just never stopped believing in Santa Claus.

And luckily, my sister changed her mind. My three-year-old nephew believes in Santa Claus, too.

--Janet Tingey

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