It is the last month of a long decade.
My grandfather is fifty-nine years old; there is no one still living in his home who is nearly young enough to believe in Santa Claus.
And yet, when the season rolls around, my grandpa picks up a red pencil and sketches Santa, with a hearty, beaming face melting into an expanse of beard.
Maybe it is reflex. Maybe it is tradition.
Or maybe it is hope … the continued belief of a middle-aged heart, maybe not in Santa Claus exactly, but in the existence of some kind of positive force that rewards people for spending their lives trying to walk the right path.
(For being on the Nice list instead of the Naughty list, in other words.)
Perhaps that is why so many parents have been so eager to teach their kids about Father Christmas all these years. They want their kids to buy the notion that being good will bring them unexpected or unimaginable rewards from some higher source.
The red suit and the beard are just incidental in the end … they vanish, like training wheels, after their time is through.
(I am suddenly struck by the mental image of a towering junkheap containing thousands of pairs of training wheels. A nice representation of childhood’s end, that. Or, at very least, a good album cover for somebody.)
There ain’t no Santa Claus, of course. There ain’t no free lunch. And there is no higher reward, save perhaps for the twin gifts of health and sanity for as long as you can hold them.
That doesn’t stop the childlike faith from far outliving the child, though.
If you are still keeping the faith, I hope you are rewarded — perhaps under the tree, or perhaps in some other setting when you are less expectant.
Have yourselves a merry little Christmas.