You’re nine years-old and Christmas is a few weeks away. To you, Christmas and Santa Claus are synonymous. It’s not necessarily the man himself that concerns you, but everything he comes to represent: your family, the presents, the overall cheer that is felt in the snow and cold air that he seemingly brings about himself. Santa is a type of god to you. In fact, you forget about everything you’re taught in class those past few weeks; about the birth of the man this day is named for. Like that man, something about Santa is strange. Why is it difficult to explain the things they have done? One is said to have risen from the dead, the other is capable of traveling to every children’s house in the world in just one night. Aren’t those things impossible? It must be magic, you think to yourself, yes magic. If anyone can do it, Santa can.
The next few weeks go by in a dream. You gaze out the window at the falling snow, thinking not of the multiplication tables whispered about behind you, but of the action figures and videogames you might receive in just a few more days. School was easy then, fun, and mostly boring. Even at nine years-old you’d tell yourself, “I just got to get through this.”
Then one day Bobby comes up to you at indoor recess and asks you what you want for Christmas. You’re just about to tell him that Santa is going to bring you the newest Super Nintendo game when he stops you right there.
“You know, Santa isn’t real,” he says.
This isn’t the first time you’ve heard this, so you ignore it. You finish your sentence, and the day goes on as normal.
But as the week continues, so does Bobby’s explanation of Santa’s nonexistence. It’s your parents, he says, they wait till you fall asleep. Yeah, you’ve heard it all before, this explanation is nothing new. Yet this time you can’t shake it. This time you’re old enough to think things through. Maybe he’s right, we’re almost ten years-old, we’re basically teenagers now. It’s time I stop make-believing and realize that it is impossible.
“You’re not stupid,” he says, “You just want to believe. You’ll grow up someday.”
He knows how to get you mad, but you don’t hit him this time even though you desperately want to.
“I want to believe,” he says. Pretty well put. Well, Bobby was always in the “smart kids” classes…
Now you’re twenty years-old and you’ve just completed your final for Philosophy 101. It’s your last test of the semester and you’re going home for Christmas. You remember those good ol’ days when winter was magical, when you eagerly awaited Santa and his reindeer. Now it’s a hassle, snow makes walking to class hard, and you’re so broke the merethought of shopping makes you nauseous.
Packing your bags, you remember to grab your classic Super Nintendo. Oh the days you spent daydreaming of Santa bringing you the latest game, how beautiful it was to have believed in something so foolish, so naïve.
“I knew it all along,” you think to yourself. “I knew Bobby was right.”
That feeling of letting go, of growing up, of forgiving yourself for being a big-kid, it all comes back now. Why did letting go of Santa make you feel such guilt?
“Heh,” you laugh, “I was only nine.”
But that feeling won’t go. You know there’s still something to let go of. You’re not a child anymore.
Philosophy 101 was not depressing, it was liberating. The arguments against the logical existence of God did make you feel foolish at first, but now you realize you were “just a kid.” Evolution is a fact, as much as the Earth rotates around the sun, or that we are made up of millions of atoms, so why have I doubted it before? Bobby, like my professors, was right: it was time to grow up.
Now, when you talk with your religious friends, watch the religious politicians on the news, or see your religious family pray before dinner, you remember the time you knew but couldn’t let go. Who would actually want to let go of Santa? Even today you still miss the times you imagined talking to him, telling him enthusiastically how good you have been and what presents you want that year.
“It’s okay,” you tell yourself, “They haven’t grown up, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
At least no one kills in the name of Santa Claus.