The misanthrope’s advent calendar – day 6

by Pseud O'Nym


One thing I hate about christmas – and there are many – is having pretending to children that Santa Claus exists.

This was something I’d managed to avoid for most of my adult life, by the rather cunning ruse of not having children. But now I share a house with a couple who have a delightfully excitable daughter, who, a couple of weeks ago, sat down noisily on the sofa next to me, arms folded and a face like thunder.

Being highly perceptive, I at once deduced that something was amiss and enquired what it was. “They haven’t posted my letter to Santa yet and he won’t know what I want. ” She paused. “And they haven’t addressed it properly, so he’ll never get it, and anyway, he doesn’t exist because a boy at school told me.” This pronouncement was accompanied with facial expression that clearly indicated an immediate rebuttal of this was required. Again with the perception! Sheldon would be so proud!

Much like naked Twister, this put me in a difficult position; on the one hand, I didn’t want to lie to her, but on the other, there in front of me was her beseechingly pleading face. What was the more important consideration in that moment?

Of course I could’ve said, “ Actually, he doesn’t exist, it’s your parents who buy all the presents, they just get you to write Santa a letter so they know what to get you. It’s a tough lesson I know but you’ll thank me one day. Probably not right now though.”

But then that would’ve been me merely channeling my childhood skepticism about Santa onto her. Even though as a child I had no idea what skepticism was, I never believed in Santa. Even then I knew it was my parents. The logic and reason of that were contained in the poorly wrapped offerings under the artificial tree were proof. I mean, would Santa give an eight-year-old boy a pair of socks?

So instead I said, “ Well only a few know exactly where he lives, but if they address it to Santa Claus, North Pole then the post people there send it to the post people in Greenland and they send it on to a remote village near the Arctic Circle and the postmen there know where Santa lives and they give him his mail. That’s what I heard.”

I was tempted to add, “But who do you believe, me or a boy at your school?

But then, if her parents hadn’t left the letter lying about in the first place, the whole farrago could’ve been avoided.