My son, being on the autism spectrum, is the most practical and analytical individual that I know. I often refer to him as “my mini Sheldon Cooper” because of his similarities to the Big Bang Theory character – his dry wit and extreme intellect. For as long as I can remember, there have been very few instances where he will take information as given without questioning and determining the validity of what has been provided. So it shocks me that at nine years old, he still believes in Santa.
Christmas has always been my favorite time of year and my parents were brilliant in their creativity where Santa was concerned.
Me: how does Santa get in our house? We don’t have a chimney.
Them: just for Christmas Eve, we leave the door unlocked so he comes in the front door.
Me: how does he come down the chimney? Won’t he get burnt by the fire?
Them: he lets parents know what time he’s coming so they’ll put out the fire.
Me: what if they forget?
Them: he has magic dust that he sprinkles down the chimney which will out the fire and cool it instantly.
Me: how can he really deliver presents to everyone in one night?
Them: well there are a few ways… because of time differences, he actually has longer than just one night. Also he really starts from the beginning of December and he asks parents to help him by accepting the presents early and keeping them hidden.
When I eventually learnt that Santa wasn’t real, it was because my dad had lost his job a few months earlier and my parents weren’t sure that they could meet all of our expectations of Santa. Maybe my empathy allowed me to remember that Christmas differently, but to my recollection my brother and I still got everything we wanted and our Christmas wanted for nothing.
Was Christmas only about Santa and gifts in our family? Nope! Santa was an added aspect but we always understood and appreciated the day as the celebration of the birth of Jesus. To this day, “Away in a Manger” is my favorite Christmas song and if it didn’t seem weird to play it every day, I would.
When I had my son, it was important that the love and joyousness, I had always experienced would be passed down to him… first and foremost, him understanding the true meaning – to celebrate Jesus’ birthday and then to enjoy the presents, love, laughter and Santa.
There are many parents who feel that letting your children believe in Santa is un-Christian. But one of my favorite stories ever is “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” and if we deeply ponder on the words in the story, isn’t it possible that Santa represents everything Jesus epitomizes in the spirit of the season. Knowing that the existence of love, generosity and devotion are with us and that “The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.”
My son is one of the most empathetic people I know. He struggles with his emotions but his kindness and generosity are unquestionable. His belief in Santa has always been secondary to his understanding of the true meaning of Christmas. His prayers every Christmas always include a thank you to God for all his presents and singing happy birthday to Jesus. I hope his love for all things Christmas continues for as long as it brings happiness to his life.