"Mum, is Santa Claus real?”
Like most kids growing up, I loved Christmas. I loved setting up the Christmas tree, decorating the house, listening to Christmas Carols, and the anticipation of Santa Claus’ arrival.
I remember asking my mum to make muffins for Santa and to leave a glass of milk out for him. She happily obliged. I would have been about 5 years old - it’s crazy how I still remember!
I remember the letters Santa used to write me - left in the middle of the Christmas tree - above my carefully wrapped present. I’m not sure why but presents from Santa were always much more meticulously wrapped - with extra love and care. It made me believe that I had been a good girl that year - that’s why he went to so much effort in ‘rewarding’ me.
Still, I dreaded the prospect of receiving a lump of coal - an indication of all my ‘wrong-doings’. I always strived to be a “good girl” - nothing pained me more than being labelled as ‘bad’. Needless to say, I was never gifted a piece of coal - this gave me a sense of validation. I must have been doing something right!
As the years passed, I remember contemplating how Santa was able to do what he did.
Where was the North Pole and what was it like?
What does Santa do when it’s not Christmas?
How does Santa know what kids want and get it delivered to them so quickly?
(This was the 90s - express mail was unheard of back then!)
How did he not mix up where I lived to where Amanda lived?
These were some of the thoughts that ran through my head, and sometimes I’d ask my mum the questions. I can’t recall all her answers, but whatever she said was sufficient to keep me happy and unphased…
Up until the age of 10.
I vividly remember being at school one day and the talk of Santa began to stir in class as our teacher was busy tending to the lesson plan. Some kids were talking about their excitement and what they wished for when a notorious bully chimed in, “Don’t you know Santa isn’t real? I’ve known since I was 5 when my brother told me. Ha-ha!”...
Our teacher turned a blind eye.
Another kid chimed in, “Of course he’s real! Don’t you know!?”
And another, “Yeah! Santa always gives me presents!”
The rest of the class was silent - not knowing whether it was appropriate to have an opinion on the topic out of fear of being wrong.
For me - it was an existential crisis!
“Is it all a lie!?” I remember thinking to myself. Then the deep sense of betrayal kicked in…
“Have my parents been lying to me all along!?”
That afternoon when I came home, my mum could tell something was up. But I bottled up my thoughts and emotions - what was I going to say exactly?
Then I remember a moment of courage where I just HAD to know the truth. My mum was doing the laundry. It was the perfect opportunity to corner her. I walked up to her and asked what many children have asked their parents before…
“Mum, is Santa real?”
Without looking at me, she responded
“He’s real if you want him to be”.
And that was enough to confirm my suspicions.
I ran to my room and bawled my eyes out. I was so deeply hurt.
What once brought me many years of joy, happiness and excitement all came tumbling down at that point and I never wrote to Santa again.
This was a defining point in my life. I realised that my parents were flawed and they didn’t know everything there was to know in the world. There was a limit to their capacity to understand all the intricacies of the world. Unravelling the truth about Santa Claus became my rite of passage that marked a process of individuation, i.e. being one who is able to think freely rather than just accepting mainstream beliefs. From that point, I became someone who could make independent choices and act accordingly.
I believe society labels this as “the teenage years”.
Our beliefs have the power to unite or divide us. What is ‘true’ for us isn’t necessarily the ‘truth’ for our neighbour.
You can see from this simple example that every single belief you have has been moulded on a foundation of other people’s opinions or beliefs. Understanding the full spectrum of what a human is capable of gives you a sense of understanding as to what impact you could have on yourself and others. As a fundamental law, your belief system will completely determine where you end up in life. You have the capacity to be bad, as well as the capacity to be good. This moral teaching is the essence behind the fantasy of what is Santa Claus.
If you orient your life in a negative way, you won’t be rewarded with anything desirable - much like a lump of coal for a child. But if we choose to be positive and good all year-round, then the message of Santa is that your life will be filled with joy and abundance.
So, what is your belief system telling you?