Why I Believe in Santa (& the Year I Met Her)
In my family, we believe in Santa Claus. There is no age at which I will tell my children that Santa isn’t real. After all, last Christmas, I met her. You’d be surprised to know that Santa Claus is a beautiful black woman. Or, at least, she was that night.
Last year, I experienced a devastating financial setback. It was the kind of setback where I wasn’t sure how I would pay rent come January 1st or how I would continue to support my children after that. I was devastated and struggling to come up with a plan. I had made it for a month by my wits and by a little help from my father. The help was running out, and so was time. I was days away from paying rent, and there just wasn’t money in the budget for many Christmas presents that year.
I wrapped the couple of gifts for each child and put them in under the tree beside a stocking that wasn’t as full as in recent years. I sat scrolling through Facebook to see picture after picture of lavish family Christmases while tears fell unchecked down my face.
I decided to do what I do: find healing through writing about my struggle. I put a very real status update about how small our Christmas would be and how hard I was finding it. I know that gifts aren’t everything, and that my kids would be happy with what they received. But I was devastated. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could carry on like this, and it hurt my heart that my financial setback would impact my children in any way.
If you’re thinking this is a first world problem, I thought that, too. But that didn’t stop me from feeling real grief and heartache over the small gathering of gifts under the tree and the terror that I wouldn’t be able to find a way to make it on my own under these new circumstances. I went to bed with tears still rolling, and I woke up a few hours later to an unfamiliar number.
It was an unexpected phone call, to say the least. The caller called me a bitch and threatened to punch me in the face if I ever struggled like that again and failed to ask for help. The fog cleared as I recognized the voice. She was a former colleague and a good friend. And she was pissed.
Before I could stop her or offer any objection, she advised me to wake up and be ready because she was sending a holiday delivery of presents from her home 2 hours away to mine. In the middle of the night. On Christmas Eve. I woke up, disoriented, and made my way downstairs. I sat under the tree, and we talked until shortly before “Santa” was due to arrive. It was paid for, I couldn’t talk her out of it, and she wanted to make sure I was really okay. She reminded me that I don’t, actually, have to do everything alone.
About an hour later, Santa showed up. She was about my age, maybe a little older, black, and beautiful. She came up to my door with a smile on her face even though she’d driven a couple of hours in the middle of the night. It was probably 2:00 am when she arrived at my front door. She unloaded one box after another of gifts, wrapping paper, and bows. When her trunk was emptied, I was surrounded by holiday gifts.
I’m not talking about a few small gifts: it was an entire room of age-appropriate gifts for my children. These weren’t cheap gifts, either. Some were used. Some weren’t. They were all appreciated.
I spotted several gifts that were hot holiday toys for the year. I stood surrounded by the generosity of my friend and cried again- this time with deep gratitude and happiness. My own Santa stood by to help me unpack the boxes, and we marveled at how much my friend had assembled with such short notice.
Suddenly, I had hope that I would find a way. I remembered that I was strong and resourceful, but I also remembered that I had so many people who cared about us, even if I felt all alone. I knew that I could make it. I wasn’t sure how, but I stood in that room of gifts and knew that it wasn’t about the gifts at all. But it was a timely reminder that I could do anything. Sometimes, I just needed to ask for help.
I cried and hugged Santa Claus, who was so pleased to be the deliverer of this particular Christmas. She wouldn’t accept a tip, stating it had already been added to the service, but she did accept a plate of cookies I had ready when she arrived. Because you can’t see Santa without offering Christmas cookies.
So don’t you ever tell me Santa isn’t real. That family is always blood-related. That miracles don’t happen. That love isn’t real. I met Santa tonight, a Santa as real as St. Nicholas himself, that beautiful spirit of love and generosity in the form of a woman delivering gifts to a family that had experienced such recent loss.
In my house, we believe in Santa Claus. After all, I met her last year. We write our letters. We put out cookies. We believe.
And if you’d met her, you’d believe, too.
Dedicated to Kim with all of our love