I think I was about eight years old when my parents informed
me that Santa Claus was just a myth. It was devastating to
learn that my favorite Yuletide hero didn't exist and therefore
I wasn't going to find presents under the tree on Christmas
morning. Of course, my parents didn't tell me there would
be no presents, but if Santa was a myth, who would deliver
them to the good kids on the night before Christmas? Like
I said, I was devastated.
Being the good buddy that I am, I had to rush out and spread
the grim tidings to my childhood friends, Hic Belcher and
Darnit Stammer. Of course, their response was predictable.
I heard the usual cries of "no way" and "you're lying."
Then, as disbelief turned to denial, "it's a communist plot"
became the chant. Finally, in an effort to counter the
claims of my parents, we read a strange letter Darnit had,
from an editor of a newspaper somewhere that said "Yes
Virginia, there is a Santa." It wasn't a pretty sight.
After the third reading of "the letter," Hic and Darnit
decided they should go home and tell their parents about
the awful things my parents had said. You never know;
there might have been wanted posters in the Post Office
with pictures of my parents on them. The description of
the crimes would almost certainly say something about
un-American activities, communist plots and crushing
the dreams of children everywhere.
When he returned, Darnit was in tears. His parents had
told him that they had intended to let him think there
was a Santa until he was a little older; but in reality,
Santa was only a myth. Oh no! Darnit's parents had
turned to the dark side too! Was there no hope of
saving Christmas and all the traditions children had
observed for centuries?
When Hic returned, he had a big smile on his face. His
parents were more liberal in their thinking than Darnit's
and mine. Of course there is a Santa. Hadn't we all sat
on his lap in the department store earlier that month?
Didn't Santa have a list of the things we wanted for
Christmas? It was just a nasty joke our parents were
playing on us. Unfortunately, by then, Darnit and I
had our doubts.
Eventually someone suggested setting a trap to catch the
chubby little elf and prove once and forever that Santa
really does exist. That was a brilliant idea. Hic's
father even volunteered to help us set the trap. Like
I said, he was more liberal in his thinking than my
parents, and he had more holiday spirit too. With the
help of Hic's dad, we created the perfect Santa trap
complete with bent willows, about 100 feet of baling
twine and cookies and milk for bait.
I couldn't sleep the night before Christmas. The prospect
of an empty trap was too heavy a burden for my young mind
to handle. At the first hint of light on Christmas morning,
Darnit and I met Hic and his father in their front yard.
Sure enough, we had proof. There were sled runner marks
and hoof prints on Hic's roof and a red Santa suit in our
trap. Unfortunately, Santa had escaped; but his clothes
were proof enough for us to believe in the happy elf.
While we surveyed the evidence, Hic's dad went inside to
call the newspaper, but they were too busy to send a
reporter. Darnit and I dragged our parents to Hic's house
to show them the evidence, and Hic's dad took pictures
of the evidence so we could prove Santa's existence to
any doubters in the future.
Darnit's parents laughed and told Hic's dad that he had
pulled a good one. My parents just shook their heads
and said they would have to wait a couple more years
before they tried to reason with me again. How could
they doubt after all the evidence? Some folks just
don't have the Christmas spirit.
I haven't doubted the existence of Santa since that day.
Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus. (Who the heck is
Virginia, and how did she get into this story?) Anyway,
Hic, Darnit and I proved that there is a Santa when I
was just a kid. I even had the pictures to prove it
for many years but somehow lost them before I reached
high school age.
If you hear the sounds of tiny reindeer hooves on your
roof late on Christmas Eve, you'll know it's just Santa
doing his yearly chores and spreading Christmas cheer.
If you do hear those sounds, please turn your head and
look the other way. Santa never retrieved his clothes
from Hic's house, so he'll probably be delivering your
presents in his long underwear.