For most little kids Santa lives in the North Pole. A magical workshop sits in the middle of a snowy plain. Stars shine, Christmas lights adorn every evergreen tree, and snow is always lightly falling. At some point in each of our lives, Santa becomes less and less real. He fades away, a distant memory from our idyllic childhood fantasy of Old St. Nick.
As a parent, I have been faced with the enormous task of playing Santa. I want my children to believe in the reality of Santa Claus, and possibility that magic does exist in our world. It is no easy task. Making sure I don't slip up when I talk about presents; trying to have our little elf run around keeping tabs on the behaviors of the kids (ok, that part is fun...); making sure we write a letter; planning out the feast of cookies and milk to leave of Christmas Eve (also, making sure we have cookies in the house for Christmas Eve...)...there is a lot of careful attention and planning that happens to make Santa work. Lily has already told us she wants bubbles, a Jessie doll (Toy Story), a car, and some dinos. All of this things are hiding in the basement in a suitcase. This year is the first year she really, truly understands that Santa will come, and that he will leave presents under the tree. She told us she only wants "2 presents" and that they should be "blue presents". She will get more than two, and I am not sure that they will be blue, but I know she will be very happy on Christmas morning.
So, as I was saying, at some point, Santa no longer lives in the North Pole. I know, at some point, I will need to face the questions of Santa's reality because Lily and Jack won't believe anymore. I realize that. If they are like my brother, their skepticism will begin at age 3, when, like Tim, they will say that Santa should leave the presents on the front porch because strangers are not allowed in the house (and why would we want a stranger in the house anyway?).
This question, though, is an enormous one. Where does Santa live? Is he real? I think, after careful research, I have an answer.
No, Santa isn't any one real person. That is what makes him so magical. Santa is bigger than just one being. He is bigger than you or me. Santa is so big because he lives in our hearts. He lives in the hearts of mommies and daddies everywhere. It's a magic that lets us know that miracles are possible, that love is transcending, and that goodness will prevail. It is a love that goes beyond presents, and toys, and decorations. It gives people hope. It tells them that things will be ok. It reminds them that love always wins. That is what makes Santa's magic.
And, I do have proof of this magic.
It lives in every home on Christmas morning.
It lives in the hearts of a high school's faculty, staff, and students as they prepare gifts for families that cannot afford to buy their own gifts for the holiday.
It lives in the hearts of this airline staff, who pulled off their own Christmas miracle.
I know that Santa is real. Maybe not the real of living in the North Pole, but real in many other ways. I know he exists when I hear Lily's laughter. When she declares, "Merry Christmas, everybody! Ho, ho, ho!" in her "deep" Santa voice. I know he's real when Jack's face lights up with wonder at the snow, or the Christmas lights. He is real.
I hope everyone finds Santa's magic this holiday season. For teachers, I am sure these past two days have done just that.