Children all over the United States are currently wringing their iPhone-calloused hands over the possibility that Santa Claus might not make it this year because he’s trapped in a delayed shipping container somewhere off the coast of California.
The situation is a little different at my house. With three daughters in their mid-to-late teens, my wife and I are starting to wonder how much longer we should renew our private contractor partnership with Old Saint Nick.
When the girls were younger and asked me if there really is a Santa Claus, I always answered them with great sincerity and insight. I told them to go ask their mother.
Seriously, though, our family has always operated with the understanding that Santa Claus exists in the reality of our imaginations – along with the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the U.S. Government’s prudent use of taxpayer dollars.
For us, Santa represents the very real fun of Christmas. And I’m not sure I’m ready to stop giving him credit as the bringer of gifts, stuffer of stockings and nibbler of Christmas cookies in a strategically careless way so that he leaves a few crumbs as evidence.
Although our girls are well into their eye-rolling teen years, there is still something magical about seeing their shining faces as they bound toward the tree on Christmas morning – even if we have to wait for them to get their hair “selfie-ready” and adjust their sports bras first.
When Santa comes to our house, it’s as if I’m reliving my own Christmas mornings as a young nerdlet with an acute case of bed head and Spider Man Underoos. (Yes, my wife and daughters are grateful I’m not still wearing them – although I’d like to.)
On Christmas mornings in those days, my big brother and I always started under the tree with the “big” gifts from Santa. One year, it was a toy “Star Wars” Millennium Falcon that my pet poodle later desecrated by lifting his leg and marking it as his own. Another year, it was a Stretch Armstrong action figure, which I really loved until I could no longer resist the temptation to find out whether or not his syrupy insides were edible. And one year, it was a new Mongoose BMX-style bike to show off to the neighborhood kids, who managed to one-up me with the newly-released and totally rad Diamond Back Pro. (That humility-wedgie still stings a little.)
Then it was on to the stockings that were bulging with the perennial apples, oranges, and Life Savers Sweet Storybooks. (I always felt kind of rebellious when I ate the Butter Rums.) And in the toe of the stockings, there was always a handful of unshelled nuts – as if Santa wanted us to know what Christmas was like in the old days when kids had to forage for sugar plums.
Those were truly joyous childhood moments, and I’ve thoroughly delighted in repeating them with my own kids (minus the stocking nuts). In fact, I don’t think I’ll cancel Santa’s access to my living room – or my credit cards – quite yet. It’s just too much fun.
Amid all of the enjoyment of Santa Claus, though, my family always remembers the profound speech by Linus in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” as we celebrate what Christmas is all about – a miracle that can’t be trapped in a shipping container somewhere off the coast of California.
Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. Contact Graves at firstname.lastname@example.org