12/22/2014 03:37 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

To Santa or Not to Santa


As December 25 gets closer the questions about Santa intensify:

Will Santa come into my room, Papa?
No honey.
But he'll be in the house?
Yes, but only in the living room.
He's going to drink from our cups though, right?
Well, yes.


Can we put out a plastic cup?

She's nine. Just. A Virgo. And a firm believer, but nervous. The logistics bother her a little--the impossibility of traversing the globe in twenty-four hours. She wanted to time one of us coming in the front door, dropping off a couple of gifts, a quick port and brandy, and then back out and getting into the car--the car as the stand in for the sleigh. She really wanted one of us to come down the chimney but agreed that was a touch unreasonable. We were having none of it, but did do the whole visualization thing, did the steps in our head. We struggled a bit with the math, and by "we" I'm not being generous, I do mean "we." The need to multiply 24 by 60 and then 60 again to get to seconds. The quickest we could imagine Santa getting in and out? Thirty-four seconds. And that a svelte Santa in a jump suit mind you. Thirty-four seconds plus seven for the chimney, so forty-one. Which extrapolates out to just over 2,107 children. Even with a willing band of inebriated four-fingered, seven-armed elves, it's difficult to account for the other 1.9 billion.

Where do the elves sit, Papa?
How come the sleigh doesn't tip over?

She's thinking of all the American Girl Dolls and bicycles. So, logic beginning to undermine magic. But, still, the dodgy logistics nothing compared to the threat of Santa advancing beyond the living room--Santa sallying unhindered into her room.

Can we lock my door, Papa?
He won't come in, Honey.
But, Papa, what if he does?
He won't, honey. He only goes in the living room, by the tree.
But my friend Alison says he goes into her room and leaves a stocking at the end of the bed. One of her mum's stockings.

A pause as she figures out the stockings thing means Santa's been sniffing about in her mum's bedroom first. In her mum's drawers.

He doesn't have time to do that in every house, honey.
Can't we lock the door?
That's a fire hazard, honey.

Probably not the right thing to say, but running out of alternatives. My wife thinks we should just tell her. Take out a lot of the stress. Hers and ours. If Santa all of a sudden becomes a hologram in a department store window, then we don't need to worry about hiding different colored wrapping paper under the kitchen sink or concealing half the presents in a lock-box in the next-door neighbor's garage with a twenty-gallon tarantula habitat on top. I'm against blowing Santa's cover. For host of reasons, but primarily because her believing in Santa Claus means she's the right side of worrying about push-up bras and how to keep braces interlocking while French kissing. Still inhabiting a world where "war," "poverty," and "melting ice caps" sound like distant pieces in a board game.

I asked one of my high school English classes. Unanimous. Don't tell her. One fifteen-year-old girl recounted her mum taking her for a walk around the neighborhood and telling her, unequivocally and very seriously, that, quote you will never be a wizard end quote. I would have figured that out, the girl says. All on my own. And not at like sixteen. Ten maybe. I would have figured it out. Even if Santa's a little bit scary, you know, cause he's on the larger side and hairy and uniformed and it seems like his breath might be bordering on the fetid, it's better that she believes in him cause of the magical part. And whatever happens--again unanimous--you can't be the one that breaks it to her. Cause the ring of trust will be broken. Maybe irrevocably. All good points, and I love the smattering of vocab words. The larger point being that even tarnished magic if truly believed to be magic beats absolutely anything the real world has to offer. You know, things like "war," and "poverty," and "melting ice caps."