Do You Believe?

christmas-treeThe Assistant surprised me in the car today. Out of the blue he blurts, “I want you to tell me if Santa is real, ok?”

My mom brain immediately reeled with crapcrapcrapcraphowdoIanswerthis? And also wow, I expected this much sooner than fourth grade. I mean, I was in second grade when Danny Mortimer called me a “f***ing baby” for believing. (In Danny’s defense, he was one of the youngest of 13 kids, so there wasn’t a whole lot that one of the older ones hadn’t told him yet.)

“Well,” I said, trying to buy some time. “What do you think?”

“I think there’s no such thing as Santa because it doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “I mean, it defies physics, and who would come up with the idea of a fat guy sliding down a chimney into a blazing fire. And… look, when I was like, 5 years old, I realized that Santa never brought you any presents.”

“Maybe I hadn’t been good that year,” I said.

“Mommmmm!” he said. “Now you’re just being ridiculous. You’re always good.” (I need to remind him of this when he’s 16.)

I was still trying to figure out what to say as he continued. “So I want you to be honest with me. I promise it won’t ruin my childhood or anything.”

We both laughed, and before I could speak he said, “Do you want to know what I think?”

“Yes, very much,” I said.

“Santa is about doing nice things and making people happy. It’s not about Christmas or religion. It’s about making people smile, especially in the winter when everything is cold and dark. And everyone likes to smile and get presents, whether you’re celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah or Diwali.”

I smiled. “That’s a really nice way of looking at it.”

“But wait, there’s more,” he said. “Santa’s not just one person. I think that there’s a little bit of Santa in everyone. And I think that now that I know, I’m Santa too. And the most important part of being Santa is not ruining it for anyone else. Because that’s why it’s magic.”

By this point we’d arrived at home, and he hopped out of the car. He gave me a hug. “Thanks for being honest with me,” he said. That was when I realized that I hadn’t actually said anything, but as usual I’d learned quite a bit from him.

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