all over the United States are currently wringing their iPhone-calloused
hands over the possibility that Santa Claus might not make it this
year because he's trapped in a delayed shipping container somewhere
off the coast of California.
But the situation is a little different at my house. With three
daughters in their mid to late teens, my wife and I are starting
to wonder how much longer we should renew our private contractor
partnership with Old Saint Nick.
When the girls were younger and asked me if there really is a Santa
Claus, I always answered them with great sincerity and insight.
I told them to go ask their mother.
Seriously, though, our family has always operated with the understanding
that Santa Claus exists in the reality of our imaginations
along with the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the U.S. Government's
prudent use of taxpayer dollars.
For us, Santa represents the very real fun of Christmas. And I'm
not sure I'm ready to stop giving him credit as the bringer of gifts,
stuffer of stockings and nibbler of Christmas cookies in a strategically
careless way so that he leaves a few crumbs as evidence.
Although our girls are well into their eye-rolling teen years, there
is still something magical about seeing their shining faces as they
bound toward the tree on Christmas morning-even if we have to wait
for them to get their hair "selfie-ready" and adjust their sports
When Santa comes to our house, it's as if I'm reliving my own Christmas
mornings as a young nerdlet with an acute case of bed head and Spider
Man Underoos. (Yes, my wife and daughters are grateful I'm not still
wearing them although I'd like to.)
On Christmas mornings in those days, my big brother and I always
started under the tree with the "big" gifts from Santa. One year,
it was a toy "Star Wars" Millennium Falcon that my pet poodle later
desecrated by lifting his leg and marking it as his own. Another
year, it was a Stretch Armstrong action figure, which I really loved
until I could no longer resist the temptation to find out whether
or not his syrupy insides were edible. And one year, it was a new
Mongoose BMX-style bike to show off to the neighborhood kids, who
managed to one-up me with the newly-released and totally rad Diamond
Back Pro. (That humility-wedgie still stings a little.)
Then it was on to the stockings that were bulging with the perennial
apples, oranges, and Life Savers Sweet Storybooks. (I always felt
kind of rebellious when I ate the Butter Rums.) And in the toe of
the stockings, there was always a handful of unshelled nuts
as if Santa wanted us to know what Christmas was like in the old
days when kids had to forage for sugar plums.
Those were truly joyous childhood moments, and I've thoroughly delighted
in repeating them with my own kids (minus the stocking nuts). In
fact, I don't think I'll cancel Santa's access to my living room-or
my credit cards-quite yet. It's just too much fun.
Amid all of the enjoyment of Santa Claus, though, my family always
remembers the profound speech by Linus in "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
as we celebrate what Christmas is all about a miracle that
can't be trapped in a shipping container somewhere off the coast