Some disturbing news passed through my noise reception air space recently. Are you aware there are people who don’t believe in Santa Claus? Not only do they not believe, but they tell their children tales of Kris Kringle and his reindeer being fictional.
My own children tried to jump on the non-belief bandwagon years ago. When they were nearing the end of elementary school, they’d come to me and explain that Santa wasn’t real. Each time one of my children approached me with this preposterous story, I’d scowl and scoff.
Then I’d reassure my children that Santa was indeed real. I went on to explain that if they continued telling and believing such tall tales, Santa might not stop by our house and fill our stockings and leave special presents. My inability to accept the Santa’s not real propaganda created skeptical believers out of my children.
Year after year we would hang our stockings. Every year I’d have to harass my three boys to admit to Santa’s existence. As they grew older, it became more and more difficult to get them to acknowledge the jolly old elf. I once had to refuse to hand over the car keys to one of my teenage sons in front of his friends until he said he believed.
His friends, who were hungry for pizza and ready to go already, began testifying to my son about the bearded man’s existence. “You don’t make the 11 o’clock news if you don’t exist. His sleigh shows up on the NOAA weather radar system every year. There HAS to be a Santa. Now tell your mom that and let’s go.”
When Ma moved in with us a few years ago, I didn’t have to say a word about Santa. My nearly grown children explained to their grandma she needed a stocking to hang from the mantle. They were worried she’d get passed over by Santa — or worse, THEY’D be forgotten — if she neglected the ritual. When she questioned them, they explained that Santa Claus is real and stops by our house as long as we continue to support his cause.
In addition to believing, there are a couple of other requirements for Santa’s visit. The being good one is a no brainer. Not fighting with your siblings, being honest and working hard in school are all still important. Although now that they are older, Santa is also watching for them to be home at a reasonable hour, not make snacks at 2:30 a.m. in the kitchen outside their parents’ bedroom and put their crusty dishes that collect in their bedrooms into the dishwasher at least once a week.
Santa also appreciates cookies. A plate of homemade confections and a glass of milk make the big man happy and provide a boost of sugary energy. Considering how late Santa must stay up on Christmas Eve into Christmas morning, he must re-energize along the way.
A few carrots for the reindeer is also a nice touch. Over the years, we’ve also found that reindeer like beignets, cheesecake, rum balls and, depending on the weather, hot toddies. To really show appreciation to Santa and his entourage, though, we discovered it is imperative to remember his devoted spouse, Mrs. Claus.
Santa’s plump wife is the one who runs the castle, workshop and stables at the North Pole. She manages the entire system, ensuring bills are paid, everything is tidy and everyone stays on task. If not for Mrs. Claus, there would be no supplies to build toys, food to nourish the elves and reindeer or electricity to power up the assembly line.
Understanding and appreciating what Mrs. Claus does to make Santa’s ride a success, we like to include a little something for her under the tree. It’d be great if we could afford to send her on a nice Caribbean vacation, but we lack the resources. Instead, we leave her things like a box of fancy chocolates, aromatherapy bubble bath or, on particularly hectic years, a bottle of Chianti and a cheeseboard.
It’s difficult for me to fathom people who don’t believe. The Claus’ and their elves and reindeer work too hard for us not to believe. They spend the entire year working tirelessly for others. They document the good in everyone. They promote appropriate behavior, generosity, humility and honesty. And they give generously to a long list of recipients with no expectations of receiving anything in return.
As long as I live, I will always believe. And I will argue until I’m blue in the face with anyone who tries to convince me otherwise. So be good, believe and hang your stockings. Santa will be here soon and he’d like to stop by for a visit.
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Micki Bare is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau and the Courier-Tribune in Asheboro, N.C., and author of “Thurston T. Turtle Moves to Hubbleville.” She lives in Asheboro with her husband, three children and mother. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org