I loved believing in Santa Claus and did so longer than most thanks to my father and a kindly neighbor.
One Christmas Day when I was a small child, my father yelled to us children to come quickly to the window. We were barely awake and had not yet gone downstairs to see what Santa had brought us, but we ran into his bedroom. There before our very eyes, walking down the road just past our farm and heading into the village, was Santa, empty sack thrown over his shoulder. We shrieked with delight and ran downstairs to see our tree. To our great joy the tree was loaded with gifts and we could only imagine what treasures would soon be revealed.
Some years later when I was 15, I came home from school and went to the kitchen to talk to my mother. I was disturbed by conversations with my classmates who claimed that Santa Claus didn’t exist. I had told them that they were wrong, that I had, in fact, seen him right after he delivered the gifts at our home. My mother then broke the news to me – the Santa that I had seen was actually one of our neighbors named Gaston.
I was disappointed to say the least. For one thing, I had been a vigorous defender of Santa Claus’ existence and now I would have to change my position and acknowledge that he didn’t exist. My bigger problem was that I actually liked believing in Santa Claus. I knew someone was watching me and determining if I had been naughty or nice and then rewarding my good behavior that one time of the year with one or more presents.
To be clear I also liked believing in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. And why not? Each was good to me in the expected way. I eagerly anticipated their deeds, and it didn’t disturb me at all that I never saw them at work.
In actuality, believing was believing for me. The seeing part was just the icing on the cake.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone.
A few years ago I was meeting with the Canadian ambassador to Germany. He was in Calgary and wanted to meet with Canadian companies selling in Germany. In starting up the conversation I asked the ambassador where he came from in Canada, and he said Quebec. I said that I was from Quebec as well. I asked about his town and he asked about mine. I gave a vague answer – the name of the region. Then he asked for the name of the town. I told him, and he said that he had an uncle in that town. When I asked for the name of the uncle, he told me, “Gaston.” I told him that Gaston was our neighbor and the reason that I continued to believe in Santa Claus until I was 15.
The ambassador told me that after Calgary he was going to visit Gaston, and I immediately asked to be remembered to him. A short time later the ambassador sent me a brief note telling me that Gaston had been glad to hear of me again. Sometimes it’s a very small world.