Ever since I was a very young child I have believed in Santa Claus. This may seem rather usual as many children share this believe that a grandfatherly figure arrives on Christmas Eve to leave gifts and toys for all the good girls and boys, but my belief was staunch, adamant, and unwavering. As the youngest of three children with brothers nine and five years older than me respectively, it was a difficult childhood maintaining my beliefs at first. My middle brother tried to gather me into his schemes to "spy" in the house when our parents were out to see if we could find presents they had stashed away. And, of course, when we found gifts packed into a closet that wound up under our tree on Christmas morning my brother was convinced that our parents were really Santa Claus. I may have given up a little ferocity of my beliefs after that time, but by the next Christmas I had completely reformed my views. Santa Claus exists. I know he does. My lifetime has been spent looking for evidence - I am a historian - and I have found it.
My parents are the first people who told me about Santa Claus. They are good people who I cannot believe would lie to me...at least about that. Each Christmas Eve my mother would read to me "'Twas The Night Before Christmas", the poem by Clement Clarke Moore which illuminated and immortalized Santa Claus. With each reading I became more familiar with Santa Claus' features, his routine, and his generosity of spirit. Once I began to read I poured over the poem at all different times of the year; there seemed to be no holes in the story. And, true to the poem, each Christmas Morning I would wake up to a magical Christmas scene with gifts from Santa Claus! Surely the poem was truth!
As I grew older, elementary school-aged, I was exposed to television specials and movies which also told the tale of Santa Claus. My eldest brother would watch, religiously, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, the Rankin/Bass animated special that aired yearly showcasing a biography of Santa Claus and answering many questions that had previously been unknown. This delighted us both year in and out. We still agree on the importance of this show in our lives.
My father introduced me to one of the weightiest arguments proving there is a Santa Claus and that came in the form of the movie Miracle on 34th Street. This movie, starring an adorable and precocious Natalie Wood, takes place in post-war New York City and proves once and for all that there is a Santa Claus! The movie is riveting, smart, and magical. If you haven't treated yourself or haven't seen it in a long time, do so and without commercials. This cemented a trust between my father and me that Santa Claus is real and taught me that, "Faith is believing when reason tells you not to." There was no better statement uttered on film and I live by those words even today.
As a child, however, I did believe that Santa Claus needed some help. He was extraordinarily generous to my brothers and me, but my parents were never treated to his surprises. This irked me, so one year, not even ten years old, I asked my grandmother (GaGa) who was visiting for the holidays for some tiny boxes. Without question she took out the costume jewelry from 3 of her boxes and handed them to me. On Christmas morning Santa had left gifts for my mother, father, and GaGa wrapped in tiny boxes. Inside each box was a crisp one dollar bill and a shiny quarter. My father's box also contained three extra pennies. The adults were incredulous and shocked. My GaGa figured things out, but I simply praised Santa for being so good to the adults in our home, especially my father who had to pay the bills!
By the time I was a teen-ager I was throwing money, any spare change I could get my hands on, into the pots the bell ringers manned for the Salvation Army. I was learning that not everyone had plentiful Christmases. It struck me as unfair and terribly sad and something I needed to try to rectify. I started buying toys and donating to the Toys For Tots program and I always bought for the Food Pantries in town.
As with many who suffer crisis of faith I did go through several Christmases questioning life, getting depressed, let down, and feeling overwhelmed. I was without children, swimming in material goods but lacking in spiritual fulfillment. I continued to assist Santa by supplying my parents with stuffed stockings, but even that was not as joyful as it had been. I was needing to find more solid proof that Santa Claus existed in this modern world and I was put here for a more important reason.
Having my first child calmed my inner turmoil. I was desperately looking for a soul to love and care for and by having my son I was able to begin to cure mine while helping to tend his! Shortly after he entered my life I was once again thrust into the role of Santa Claus. I was beginning to be host for the holiday and needed to make sure all people, not just children, were treated to Santa's generosity in our home. I was in a bookstore one day near Christmas and found a book that I was compelled to buy and read immediately titled, The Autobiography of Santa Claus by Santa himself and Jeff Guinn. I had seen biographies of the Big Guy, including one from the Biography Channel that I used to show my students during the holiday season, but never had I seen a book written by Santa himself. I began reading immediately and discovered myriad facts about Santa Claus (nee Saint Nicholas). I was enthralled! Here was the proof in Santa's own words! I never needed to question again whether Santa Claus existed. He does, just like The Sun proclaimed to little Virginia! Now I had the proof I'd been searching for a lifetime!
I am one of Santa's Helpers. I work year round to assist him with his gift-giving duties on that one night a year. There are many valuable tips I have learned and developed to successfully prepare for and enjoy Christmas each and every year. Stick with me and I'll share these tips with you each day leading up to Christmas.
I believe. I understand how scores of others cannot. My hope is to get the word out that we all can assist Santa Claus and make this holiday season a lot brighter for ourselves, our neighbors, our families, and those in need. It just takes kindness and a generosity of spirit. I learned that from Santa Claus. I believe, do you?