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There Is No Santa Claus, Not Really

He had his own suit. It had been carefully sewn, and all the parts of it were chosen with care – the fur for the hat, collar and cuffs were real wool, not woven, but with the real leather. There were real boots, not covers for shoes. The small-lensed glasses had real lenses in them, and the beard was thick and held well to the face, allowing even a little tugging by the children without coming off or going crooked.

His "Ho Ho Ho," was not too often, and exuberant, not like an act, but like a personality feature. He carried a real belt of sleigh bells - loud. Many children who were aware that there were many "fake" Santa Clauses still found him to be the "real" one.

But this year, one little girl was standing a little off in front of him, while child after child came to sit on his lap and be showered with love and encouragement. He gestured several times for her to come, but she stood her ground very still and with interest. She was at that age – doubts and wonder at the same time. She was just looking up at him – not particularly afraid – almost like she wanted something but a little shy about coming all the way up. It continued for the duration of a dozen more visits from other children.

He kept giving her a little smile – and then all of a sudden he let out, while having her attention, with a large "HO HO HO HO Ho Ho." She then finally showed some reaction – jumping a little – smiling a little – and so he reached out his hands beckoning her once more to approach. He noticed her little bare feet.

When she got to him, he picked her up and put her on his left side with his arm around her back. He sensed that something was a little wrong. Did she want to ask for her Mommy and Daddy to get back together for her Christmas present? He didn’t know, but he was guessing possibilities.

He got near her ear and said, "Santa Claus loves you very much." She turned and looked up into his face. She appeared comfortable with what he had said, but still she responded, "There’s no such thing as Santa Claus." She didn’t appear angry – just a statement of fact – almost as if she were informing him. She gently tugged at his beard.

" I know there is no Santa Claus, " he said, " but Santa Claus loves you very much anyway ! " She beamed with doubting satisfaction, and her continued smile indicated perhaps she understood some humor in this also.

What he meant is that he, the one playing the part, felt to love the little girl. He couldn’t know exactly what she thought, but she limped with satisfaction and gave him a big old hug, took her candy cane, and asked for nothing at all for a present – just walked off with a big smile, still looking back several times from different distances.

It’s a fine job, being Santa Claus. At its best, it’s not about truth. It’s about something much more important than truth.

- Chuck Borough

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