Santa’s handwriting

At the dinner table, Kiddo#2 said, “I don’t think there’s really a Santa.” She laughed nervously. “I think it’s Mom and Dad!”

This was a month ago. I looked at her, puzzled, and said, “Huh?”

She said, “I think you guys buy the presents!”

It’s about time she’ll figure it all out, of course, but Kiddo#3 was right there, so I asked a few more generic questions and let the conversation change course naturally.

She brought it up again a couple days later, and I asked her what she thought. She told me she isn’t sure.

I asked her why she thought Santa might not exist. “Because it would be impossible to go around the world overnight to give everyone a present.”

Sounds logical, I said. I asked her why she thought Santa might. “Because,” she said, “in order to leave presents, you and Dad would have to get up in the middle of the night, and you’d never do that!”

Clearly she has no idea what life is like with a newborn. But I digress.

The thing is, she knows and at the same time, she’s not ready to give it up. She genuinely likes the fantasy, and at the same time, I suspects she realizes that confirming what she “knows” would make her less a child.

She did write a letter to Santa this year. She wrote that she wanted a yo-yo and “a horse just like the one I drew at the bottom,” and painted a picture of a brown horse. I deposited it into the Post Offal box for just such a purpose, and Santa wrote back a note with a candy cane attached.

“Mom,” she breathed in an awed hush, “Santa says he knows how hard I’ve been trying to be good.”

And, ever the forensics expert, she pointed to the bottom of the note. “This is Santa’s handwriting.”

The handwriting’s on the wall, Santa’s or otherwise: this is her last Christmas as a bright-eyed innocent. Next year, she’ll be helping convince Kiddos#3 and #4 that an amusement-loving philanthropist owns flying reindeer. For this year, however, she’s holding on with snowflakes in her heart and a candy-cane clutched in her hand, knowing someone’s proud of how hard she’s trying to be good.


  1. whiskers09092006

    I’m not sure I ever “believed” in Santa…but at 27, I still get one present from him each year. Merry Christmas!

  2. JP

    my 7 yo daughter announced a few days ago that she didn’t believe in Santa. My wonderful husband took her on his lap, pulled up and read “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Clause” and printed it out for her.

    She believes for one more year.

  3. Lane in PA

    I lost my “Santa Innocence” at the age of 5 when I picked up a copy of Reader’s Digest off the coffee table and read an article about ‘When to Tell Your Children Santa Claus is Not Real’.

    Seriously, I read Reader’s Digest at that age; there was nothing else in the house to read except “Life” , “Redbook” and “Photography Today”.

    I was pretty bummed but it primed me for the facts of life later on. From then on, I always knew “there was a catch”.

    BTW, Jane, I found your blog via a certain etiquette website, which I am still awaiting permission to enter. Heavy Sigh. And I found the etiquette website by googling “I don’t want to go to my mother’s funeral” and finding a story you wrote about your(?) mother and her funeral and the daughter’s memories and reactions. (Was this autobiographical?) I read it and it really moved me (wish I could find it on your blog and read it again). Now I am reading your angel stories and I am just wowed by your incredible imagination and insights into the Human Condition. I spent most of today reading your online stories. Next payday, I will buy a copy of your book and write a review on Amazon. I am sure it will be 5 stars.

    In closing, I want to thank you for your wonderful writings, and your blog, and I wish you and your family a warm and happy Christmas.


  4. philangelus

    Lane, thank you, and welcome to the weblog!

    My mom is alive and well and reads here, so I’m pleased so say that story was not about her. Unfortunately, I think it may not have been mine because it’s not ringing a bell in my head. (Ivy? You know my catalog better than I do — any ideas?) Thank you for reading my stories! I hope you enjoy the book too.

    I didn’t realize/remember the etiquette site had a waiting period. It’s fun and very very supportive once you start posting, though. I look forward to seeing you there! And again, welcome.

  5. Amy Deardon

    This is a great story — so sad when they figure it out. I hope Kiddo #3 can hold on a little longer, but doubt it is meant to be 🙁

    Merry Christmas! I hope you have a wonderful holiday with family and friends in contemplation of our dear Lord 🙂 And toys, of course!

  6. Lane in PA

    Please accept my apologies about the funeral story. I got a little lost in the links. It’s a jungle out there, and I strayed off the path. It’s a good thing my Mac has this History tracking thingie.

    Nonetheless, some how I navigated my way to your site and now I am happy to hear that your mother is alive and well and reads here. I wish I could say I was as fortunate. And I think I will send a comment to the other blogger (who I confused with you) to read your stories, I think she needs your inspirations.

    I hope to be posting soon at the etiquette site, too!

    Oh, one more thing — who was the artist for your book cover? That is one incredible piece of artwork. The wings on the angel are so accurate. The way the light filters through the feathers, it is just amazing how the artist captured that. (I am a parrot guardian, and I take a lot of photos of my birds. The artist you chose for your book cover is simply wonderful in his or her understanding of the nature of wings and feathers. A very powerful image!)

  7. Jeannette

    My 6 year old daughter did something very similar this year. She was all distraught because she “just didn’t know” if Santa was real. Her daddy read the Dear Virgina letter to her and showed her the NORAD Santa radar site. But still, she was unconvinced. I asked her why she thought there might not be a Santa. She said the same thing your child did “because it would be too hard to deliver all the presents”. I asked her why she thought there MIGHT BE a Santa. And she said, “Because, mom, there are always presents and I don’t think you and Daddy are sneaky enough”.

    LOL… the magic made it one more year. Soon she’ll learn that if she asks my step dad (who loves her dearly) he will give her the honest to God’s truth instead of side-stepping it like her dad, her grandmother and I do.

  8. Cricket

    My son (10) was very close to spilling the beans this year. Not intentionally, but he likes talking with the grownups and isn’t as good at euphamisms. A few “If Santa doesn’t exist, then he can’t bring you presents,” and “If Rachel doesn’t believe in Santa, he won’t have any reason to visit,” almost worked.

    I told the kids years ago that the Santa in the mall is actually one of Santa’s friends, and Santa uses his magic so that all the mall and street Santas are really Santa when you’re with them,[1] even if they look different and don’t remember what you told him yesterday.

    [1] shades of Communion and/or Confession here?

    Daughter (7) told me this year that she’d be very careful, because not all the little kids in the line know about the different types of Santa.

    As far as I’m concerned, that guy in the red suit listening carefully is Santa, at least a little bit, as are the parents and grandparents and uncles and aunts who help him. So Santa does exist, even if you know who’s helping him.