‘Tis the Season

Belief is a touchy subject. It is difficult for me to accept something exists without absolute proof — to have faith — and yet, the majority of what I do believe cannot be proven. It is internal. If I feel something is true, then I hold it as true with or without tangible evidence. But I cannot join in the blind faith so many of my friends and family possess.

I transferred to a private Christian academy for my final three years of high school, not because I believed in God, but because my dad did. When he was diagnosed, I started receiving Social Security benefits. When he died, the amount increased to over $800 a month. I didn’t want that money. It was insulting to think that it was adequate compensation for his loss, but it was his, so I decided to use it for something that would make him happy. And it did turn out to be a blessing.

Christmas is all about belief. The Pagan Yule, Jesus’s birth, Santa, Commercialism, family: there is something for almost everyone. Until my son started preschool, he knew where the presents came from: Mommy, Grandma, aunts and uncles. Then he sees that other kids believe in a jolly old elf-master, and he starts playing along.

At four, Hugo convinced himself that Santa was real in order to be like other kids — at four, it was already obvious to him that he wasn’t like them at all — and, at eight, he continues the myth. It’s familiar in a world that has changed too much. His logical mind allows him to prove, rather than disprove, Santa because of his need for stability. Rather than question why Santa looks so different in every store, Hugo reasons that these people are Santa’s representatives from the North Pole. They are agents sent out to find out what small children want for Christmas, and they only way to obtain that information is by looking like Santa. Little kids are very shy and stranger-conscious after all.

I don’t like Santa Claus. He steals too many of my mom points. I tolerate his presence because I understand. There really has been too much change for one boy to handle: he’s lost his grandfather and his brother, and he’s moved across country leaving almost his entire family behind. He’s rarely given much explanation — he feels as if his opinion doesn’t matter and that he doesn’t have a choice in regards to his own life.

If I were him, I’d be angry too.

I began with the concept of belief — how difficult it is for me. It seems so easy for my son; he seems to believe in everything: God, Santa, homicidal robots, etc. I don’t understand how he believes, but I do understand some of the why.

I’ve never bothered to give him real answers. I assumed that he didn’t need to believe in anything because I don’t need to. He’s eight years old — of course he does!

And that barely touches on how much I have failed him…