My anecdotal evidence gathered from 38 years of blind faith.
1976 — Age 6
If I keep pinching myself, I’ll stay awake. I can still hear mom and dad in the living room, so I can’t sneak out yet.
Jennifer says there isn’t any Santa. That it’s really mom and dad. But Jennifer unties Billy’s shoes just to be mean. He can’t tie them himself, and he cries.
It’s starting to rain outside. We never get snow at Christmas.
Shhh, I think they’ve gone to bed. Now I have to wait again. Must keep pinching.
– – – – –
Oh no! I fell asleep! The rain is coming very hard now. I hear a tinkle in the house. I knew it! Jennifer is wrong. I hop out of bed and sneak into the hallway. Just a little farther and I’ll be able to see. I tiptoe to the end and peek around the corner —
CRASH! Lightning fills the house and the thunder is so loud I almost scream. I clap my hands over my mouth and run back to bed. Santa knew I was going to look!
I’ll never doubt again.
1983 — Age 13
It really doesn’t matter if I’m only getting clothes for Christmas. I quit playing with toys a long time ago.
What irks me about this Christmas, other than the three horrid hours we have to spend watching the old people play dominos, is that something is wrong with my ankle. No one can figure out anything wrong with it, but I can’t walk. It hurts a lot and I have to hop everywhere. I’ve spent the whole break reading books, and crawling to the bathroom when I have to go. Mom acts like I’m making it up. I know going to the doctor is expensive, and I don’t remember hurting it. But someone’s got to do something.
Tomorrow morning is Christmas Day and I’m in the play at church, and this is going to be so embarrassing. Whoever saw an angel bouncing to the mike to sing “Angels We Have Heard on High?” I finally get a big part — they never choose me for Mary — and this has to happen. Maybe Tiny Tim will loan me his crutches.
– – – – – –
My brother is banging on my door, going on about some Star Wars something-or-another in his stocking. I’m halfway across the room before I realize it.
I can walk just fine.
1997 — Age 27
I can’t believe I’ve been trying to get pregnant for almost a year. Thankfully my doctor was willing to see us so close to Christmas, get the preliminary tests started, so we can start the New Year with a new direction, most certainly with some assistive technology. No good ol’ fashioned way for us.
I hang the stockings almost bitterly; I was certain we could put a third one up, even if a baby hadn’t quite yet come by now. When we began this journey in February, I just knew we’d be well on our way by Christmas. I was so sure that after last Christmas, I’d bought a new stocking on clearance, just to be prepared. I run my hands along the fabric, then stick it beneath the tissue paper, feeling foolish.
I pull out the chart the doctor gave us. We have to “try” the next few nights in a row, then we can take a test on Jan. 7, the first day it might be positive. A Christmas baby, I laugh. We can tell him he was conceived on Christmas Eve.
Whatever. I’m certain what actually brings the baby around will be intensive, long, probably painful, and expensive.
And yet… a few days later.
2003 — Age 33
I’m trying not to have a cow. It’s 8:00 on Christmas Eve and Baby Elizabeth just opened an early gift — a little blue bear. Emily has been crying nonstop, wanting one too. We’ve called my parents, who we won’t see for a few more days, to see if they can find one and give it to her in Wichita Falls when we drive up, but now she’s writing a letter to Santa asking for a blue bear.
She tugs on the front door.
“Where are you going?” I ask her. “It’s night time.”
“To put my letter in the mail!”
Oh no. “To Santa?”
“Yes! To bring me a blue bear!”
I don’t even know what to say. I follow her down the steps.
“Baby, I don’t know if Santa will get the letter this late. He’s probably already packed his sleigh.”
“He can! I know he can!”
We go back in the house and I get them ready for bed. What will Emily think if Santa doesn’t get her the bear? I could send John out. Surely something is still open on Christmas Eve with a blue bear in stock. If not, maybe she’ll forget when she gets all the other gifts.
I go back downstairs, where John is pulling the bag of extra toys to set out. “Why did Emily go outside?” he asks.
I tell him about the bear.
I can’t believe it.
We may not know exactly how he works, or when or where or why, but there definitely is a Santa Claus.
I will never doubt again.