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Not sure who I was in love with more in the late ‘70s, Mr. Rogers or Santa Claus. I was only 6, so being sexy was not a factor in my decision-making; I was attracted to nice men who lived in magical kingdoms. Santa had the North Pole and Mr. Rogers tapped into The Land of Make Believe with King Friday and Lady Elaine Fairchild. Now that’s what I call cribs!
My first memory of how Santa Claus came to be was when my mom told me about St. Nicholas who gave to the poor, so they made him a saint. I think the next logical question for most kids (including myself at the time) was, “Why he doesn’t ever die?” I loved my mother’s response: “Because really good Catholics don’t. They become saints and some live for all eternity.” Needless to say, I was the best Catholic ever, for about one year.
Now that Evan is asking me these same questions, I’ve decided it’s time to look into some facts about old St. Nick. I hate lying to him, and I needed to find some legitimacy so I won’t feel like a complete chump when he learns the truth. Don’t get me wrong … I get caught up in the fairy-tale myself, and love watching Evan’s excitement as talks to a senior citizen — that I paid top dollar to walk around my backyard dressed as Santa Claus every Christmas Eve. The way he describes Santa as being able to watch over kids through a secret window in the sky always makes me cry. Not because it’s so cute, but because I feel like I’m seriously going to burst his bubble and ruin that awesome feeling we all had as kids when we believed that magical things were real.
I remember how devastated I was when I saw my cousin Keith changing in the basement of our house, then going around to the front door and showing up as Santa. It was heartbreaking, and I want to be as prepared for that day as I can. So at 40 years old, I decided to finally learn the truth about old St. Nick. Did Santa really exist or was he just an old-school behavior modification tool that’s worked through the centuries? So here’s what I learned.
Santa Claus, a.k.a. Nicholas, was born during the third century in the village of Patara, which is now the southern coast of Turkey. Who knew, right? Nicholas was raised as a devout Christian by totally rich parents who sadly died during an epidemic while he was a young boy. Being the good Christian son, Nicholas dedicated his whole life (and his whole inheritance) to helping the needy, sick and suffering. He did such good work he was made the Bishop of Myra as a young man. He was known throughout the land for his generosity and kind spirit, until he was ruthlessly persecuted by the evil Roman Emperor Diocletian. Nicholas was sent to prison where he joined many other bishops, priests and deacons. St. Nicholas died on Dec. 6, 343 AD and was buried in his cathedral church. Around his grave a unique substance called manna, which many believed to have magical healing powers, was formed. And it is from this manna that the undying devotion to St. Nicholas was born, and has lasted for 1669 years! That must’ve been some manna!
I have to say that learning about this made me feel a lot better. I feel a certain pride in carrying on the tradition and work of good old St. Nicholas. Maybe when the time comes and my little boy needs to know the truth, or maybe after he catches that hired senior Santa sucking on a fattie after his appearance, I’ll be better prepared to explain to him why we go to such great lengths to deceive children. It’s because of our great respect to a kind and generous man who actually lived a long time ago. So the truth is, Santa Claus is real!
Does anyone other than me feel kinda bad for lying to their kid about Santa? If so, I hope this will help when the dreaded day arrives. If you’ve already lived through this, how did your kids take it? Have they forgiven you yet? I’d love to hear your Santa stories!