Christmas Wreathby Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper 12/2008

“DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. Some of my BFF’s say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If Robert Gillis writes it in the Foxboro Reporter it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?” — Virginia Wassailing

OMG! Virginia, I wasn’t sure your letter was real because no child these days SAYS anything — you text it, you Twitter it, you instant message it, you post it on your blog or MySpace page, but none of you actually TALK to each other. LOL! I mean, I haven’t witnessed you or your friends actually SAYING anything to one another since the Reagan era.

But since you have no idea who Reagan was, and assuming this is for real, it’s obvious your BFFs are engaging in the vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against Santa Claus since the day he announced for president.

Um, wait, sorry, that was for another piece I’m writing on the Clintons. Never mind. I’m off my meds today so my thought process is a little scrambled.

Look, you and your friends have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age, and by the simple fact that most of you have the attention span of a coconut.

Your friends do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. But ALL minds, Virginia, whether they are men’s or children’s, and especially Britney Spears, are little. In this great universe of ours, man’s tiny intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge …

You know what, forget the big universe thing; I have NO idea where I was going with that.

Where was I? Oh, right. Um, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Yeah.

Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. Without him there would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no 3am day after Thanksgiving sales, no inflatable Santa’s on motorcycles to decorate the front lawn, no giant plastic Santa Claus figures, no greed, no excess, and no over-the-limit credit cards charging 39% interest. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe that the Mass Turnpike Authority will soon be dismantled! You might as well not believe that the Massachusetts legislature will diligently cut every cent of spending waste from its budget before raising our taxes by one penny!

Look, kid, you might even get your Papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but then a lot of people would be asking who are all these weirdoes staring up the chimney? And no one wants that. Besides, they might be Big Dig contractors, and they would charge your Papa triple their costs, and in January the chimney bricks would be loose and leaky.

Virginia, nobody ever really sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. (See also: UFOs, the Easter Bunny, global warming, etc.) The most real things in the world are those that children can’t see: Things like foreclosures, a collapsing economy, pork barrel spending, and a fanatically unhealthy obsession with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

Look Virginia, to use a metaphor, you may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but then the dog will likely eat the little pieces and get sick on the carpet, and your parents will get mad at you, so don’t do that. Y’know, that was a stupid metaphor, I apologize.

To put it in a context you can understand, remember the words Lucy said to Charlie Brown in the “Charlie Brown Christmas” special: “We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big eastern syndicate, you know.” And Lucy never lies, except when she says she isn’t going to pull away the football when Charlie Brown is about to kick it.

So listen to Lucy, or something, and know Santa Claus lives forever, so long as there are greedy corporations that continue to exploit the true meaning of Christmas, and squeeze every last dime out of clueless consumers, and that Santa Claus will continue to make glad the heart of childhood. Or something.

You know, I really should cut down on the eggnog before I write my columns.

So I hope I’ve cleared things up for you, Virginia, and to put this question about Santa to rest once and for all, let’s close with this quote from Alaska governor Sarah Plain, who can see Russia — AND Santa’s workshop — from her house:

“Is there a Santa Claus? You betcha! {wink}”


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