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Santa Claus

Sitting in the back seat of the car,
buckled in, watching me,
I see the troubled look
in your beautiful golden eyes,
your moms eyes.
My little girl with her fiery red hair,
off to school, books beside you.
"Daddy," you say.
"Yes Pumpkin," I reply.
In the mirror I see the concern on your face,
you don't seem to know how to start.
You choose your words carefully.
"Some kids at school say there is no Santa Claus."
You hesitate for just a moment,
"They're wrong, there is a Santa, right?"
I look at you for a long moment, too long while driving.

What have I done?
How can I answer this question 
without breaking your poor little heart.
You wait patiently, intense gaze unwavering.
I never meant to lie to you,
I would never hurt you,
but I guess I have.
If I tell you there is no Santa
then you will know there is no Easter Bunny,
no leprechauns or fairies,
no wishes or magic.
You'll question all of the good and beauty
that you have known in your life.

You look out of the window for a moment
as we pass another light,
then back in the mirror at me.
Your expression is still serious but has changed,
and I realize that this is not about Santa Claus.
This is about your relationship with your Daddy.
You already know the answer to the question.
How could I so blatantly lie to you.
You're a very smart young girl.
How did I get myself in to this mess.
I just wanted you to feel the wonder of Christmas,
to see the smile on that sweet innocent face.
Then it dawns on me, I haven't lied to you at all.

"I believe in Santa Claus Pumpkin.
If the kids at your school understood,
I think they would believe too.
It's not about a white beard or red suit.
It's about the goodness in the world."
You leaned forward and listened as I spoke,
"I'm not sure how to explain this 
so you can understand,
but I hope someday you do.
Santa Claus is not a person.
He represents the beauty that is all around us
The caring of one person for another,
the willingness to give of yourself,
even when you have little left to give,
sharing a smile with your mom,
hugging your new sister.
Santa is more than just gifts with his name on them,
he's the love I have for you.
Do you understand?" I asked.
You nodded lightly in confused agreement
and with a hint of a smile you sat quietly,
but the disappointment was plain on your face.

I have always believed in Santa Claus,
and I hope someday she will again .
She'll be twenty two soon.
Yet even now, I sign 'From Santa' 
on each of her Christmas presents,
because I believe he is the greatest part of me.


Copyright © James Inman