Sshhh! It’s A Secret!

Some truths aren’t for everyone.

There are those among us who aren’t quite old enough to learn every little thing, and there are others who will, sadly, never be old enough. If you know someone like that, there’s no need to tell them. Why spoil their innocence?

(Note: Spoilers below the line.)


Santa Claus is real.

It’s taken me forever to figure that out, but it’s true.

When I was a kid, I was skeptical: The whole world? In one night? Lots of people don’t have chimneys; what about them? I was a real pain-in-the-ass; it’s a perpetual amazement to me that I didn’t get stockings full of coal.

The real trouble, as I saw it, was the Mall Santa. Sure, he’s real, but isn’t he supposed to be putting toy orders together, that sort of thing? I mean, the guy’s got work to do, and it’s his busy season. So why is he hanging out with kids at the Mall? More to the point: How can he be at three different malls at the same time? And that’s just the three malls near me, mind you — other towns have malls. It was explained to me that they were all Santa’s “helpers”, and that should have been my first clue.

My dad didn’t help either; he kept making snide comments that he didn’t think I was old enough to understand, things about paychecks and Christmas bonuses and how Santa’s going to need some beer instead of milk and cookies. (He’s older now, and he’s grown up some, but sometimes I wonder: Does he know yet? Has he figured it out?)

I remember the first Christmas that I managed to sleep so early that I got up before the presents were finished. I remember the lights going out, everyone going to bed, and me sneaking downstairs. I looked at everything very carefully, saw the stockings were full, and counted the presents. Then I went back to bed satisfied; I’d seen everything I needed to — or so I thought.

It was years later that I figured out The Secret: Just because you’ve never caught Santa Claus coming down a chimney doesn’t make him less real. It may well mean that you don’t know how to look.

When I see someone giving gifts not out of obligation but instead because they want to — that’s when I see the real Santa in action. Parents getting presents for their kids, saying to themselves, “He’s gonna love this!” “Honey, he’s two; he’s gonna love the box.” — now THAT is Santa Claus. The other day, my rabid Democrat sister-in-law told the crazy Libertarian uncle “I love you” and gave him a hug — and you’re trying to tell me that there’s no such thing as Santa?!

A lot of years ago, a famous column was published in The Sun containing the oft-quoted line, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” These days, newspapers use it as an excuse to avoid writing Christmas copy of their own, and I’m sure you can find a copy in your own local yellow rag’s Special Christmas Bonus Section. It’s lovely writing, but I don’t think it goes quite far enough: It fails to mention that the spirit of Santa Claus requires the active participation of all his helpers everywhere.

And that’s the bottom line: We — all of us — have the opportunity to help out old St. Nick every day of the year, even if only in small ways. Little things add up, and they pay forward; whenever we see someone else doing good, it can inspire us to do the same. With our help, goodwill can spread, and even provoke that most elusive of conditions: Peace.

Santa’s work is the work of good people everywhere: To improve the world around us, to spread kindness in small acts and large, and to inspire others to do the same.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone. May the spirit of Santa Claus be with you.


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