“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus…”
December 12, 2009
Josh was four years old and all he wanted for Christmas was a toy record-player.
We spent hours composing our letter to Santa Claus, enumerating all the ways that Josh had been such a good boy that year: helping Mommy and Daddy, putting his toys away after he was finished playing, and helping homeless people in the street…
We walked hand-in-hand to the post office, mailing our letter to “Santa Claus, North Pole” and marking it “Urgent – Please read upon receipt” across the back of the envelope.
A few weeks before Christmas, we were invited to my brother’s house in New Jersey for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Ralph has four girls, and the two youngest – Jackie and Julie – were only eight months older than Josh – beautiful redheaded twins who adored Joshua — and he loved being around them.
This time, though, Josh seemed upset that we were going to visit “the girls”, as we called them. With each passing day – each day closer to Christmas – he seemed to get more withdrawn. Every now and then, he would ask me, “Do we have to go to Uncle Ralph’s for Christmas?”
I didn’t get it. I said, “Oh, Honey, you’ll have a great time! You and the girls can play with all your toys and we’ll all be together! Won’t that be fun?” He looked down to the floor and walked away…
Finally, after about four of these exchanges… I followed him out of the kitchen into his room to find him sitting in the middle of the floor, just looking down at his hands…
“What’s the matter, Josh?” He looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Mommy, I don’t want to go to Uncle Ralph’s for Christmas.”
This time, I paid attention and didn’t brush it off…
I sat down on the floor, next to him.
“Honey, talk to me. What’s bothering you?”
With that, Josh put his arms around my neck, leaned into my chest, and started crying in earnest, “Mommy, how will Santa know where I am if we go to Uncle Ralph’s? He’s expecting me to be here…”
I wrapped my arms around him and rocked him….
“Oh, Honey, Santa knows EVERYTHING! He’ll know where you are!”
He looked up at me, eyes wide, “He does? How will he know?”
I thought for a moment. I knew this was a very important question – for him and for me…
“Josh, there are things we know, not because we can see them or touch them… but, they’re real just the same. We know these things in our hearts… and I know that Santa knows where you are because you are in his heart… Not just at Christmas time, but all year long – even when you’re not thinking about Him… You have to believe…”
We sat there a little longer while Josh thought about this… He wanted to believe me, but I could see he wasn’t quite there yet….
“I’ll tell you what, Josh… Why don’t we leave him a note? Just in case he accidentally forgets… I don’t think he will, but, if it will make you feel better, we can do that. What do you think?”
He thought that was a great idea…
On Christmas Eve morning, we prepared to go to my brother’s house. My husband, Fred, had taken all the presents – including the coveted toy record-player – down to the car and put them in the trunk the night before.
Josh brought me a piece of paper and a crayon to write the note to Santa…
“Dear Santa,” I wrote carefully, “Just in case you come here first, I just want to let you know that I am at my Uncle Ralph’s with Jackie and Julie. Please bring my presents there.” And, just in case Santa didn’t know how to get there, we gave directions, “Just look down from your sleigh and follow the New Jersey Turnpike…”
While it was all I could do not to smile, I realized that this “crucible of doubt” was going to be a turning point for Josh – this was very serious business. ..
We set up a little table between the fireplace and the tree – where Santa couldn’t miss it – and laid out His usual milk and cookies — the “bread and wine” of Santa devotion — and placed the note carefully between the glass and the dish…
We left for New Jersey. But, not before Fred went back upstairs, “to go to the bathroom,” poured the milk back in the carton and left the glass where he found it, grabbed the note, and put the cookies in his pocket.
Josh had a great time that evening, playing with his cousins. As hard as they tried to stay up and sneak a peek at Santa, all the kids finally couldn’t keep their eyes open. Off they went to bed.
The next morning, I heard the excited screams as all the kids ran down the stairs. I heard the whooping and hollering and crying out in delight at what they saw under the tree.
I rolled over and said to Fred, “C’mon, wake up… we have to get these pictures…” We pulled on sweats and walked out into the hall….
There was Josh, standing all alone at the top of the stairs. The sounds of Christmas laughter and the smell of cinnamon-Christmas-something were wafting up the stairs to us…
“Honey, what’s the matter? Why aren’t you downstairs with the others?”
His soulful eyes looked up at me and he whispered, “What if Santa forgot me….?”
I walked to him, kissed his cheek and took his hand, “Honey, remember what I told you? I’m sure that Santa didn’t forget you… He knows everything…”
We walked down the stairs and into the living room where all the kids were tearing open packages and laughing…
I went to the tree and picked the package I knew contained the record player. I looked at the card to see whose present it could be…. “Oh! Here’s one for you, Josh!”
I read aloud:
“Dear Josh, I know you’ve been such a good boy this year. Merry Christmas, Love, Santa…”
Josh ran to me and reached up for his present. He dropped to the floor, and I sat with him, watching his face as he ripped open the wrapping…
“It’s my record-player!”
He looked up at me and then straight into the camera that Fred held, and said…
“Oh, Mommy, you’re right! Santa DOES know EVERYTHING!”
Yes, my dear, sweet child…. He does….
As I breathed in the tree lights, beautiful sights, laughing sounds, and evergreen smell of Christmas, I silently thanked the SomeOne Else who really does know everything…. “Thank you, thank you… for this… for this moment… for this child…. for this family… for all this Love…”
Merry Christmas to all, and to all…. I wish you the greatest gifts… Faith, Beauty, and Love… Miracles, creation, and Joy…
Deliciously yours in the Wonder of it All, Linda
“Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews, 11:1
This is Josh at that “Ah-ha!” moment about Santa, with Julie and Jackie in the background and me and the record player in the foreground. The Big Eyes tell the whole story….
“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.”
*Note: The title and this excerpt are from the famous editorial published in the New York Sun on September 21, 1897, entitled, “Is there a Santa Claus?” written by Frances P. Church. Here is the link to the full editorial: http://beebo.org/smackerels/yes-virginia.html
© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and “Spritiual Chocolate” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you.