It happens in nearly every Christmas movie and holiday special, that point where some smug character in the story ridicules the existence of Santa Claus and shares an implied wink with the audience that says we all get the joke—that this is the stuff of children, and we are sensible adults long past such flights of fancy.
Then, as the story continues there are situations and circumstance, miracles and magic, and between wishes granted and sudden snows, such skepticism is blown away, leaving mirth and merry glowing warmly in its place.
Hearts are mended, puppies are found, curmudgeons become the life of the party, and the world is a better place because Santa Claus is known and loved.
Except that is where we started.
When my children sit down to watch a holiday-themed program, they are doing so content with the unshakeable belief that Santa is very, very real, and despite what we are told about playgrounds and older siblings, the first place that most kids experience doubt is there on the screen. Movie after movie, TV special after TV special, ridicule and doubt become a little more real, and regardless of the intent and resolve they start to linger in places that had once sealed them out.
Over the years each lighthearted romp of holiday entertainment featuring countless kids that don’t believe and parents apathetic builds upon those that came before it, piling up like so much coal while the world laughs and calls it a wonderland. It is the sound of disbelief settling for life’s long, cold winter and the silence of sleigh bells that are no longer ringing.
Innocence may melt slowly, but once it is gone it is gone for good, and soon those winks once implied become as real as the belief that used to be.
I don’t like it.
I don’t want to worry about the inevitable non-believing monologue that kicks off the third act. I would rather take my thumb off the fast forward button and reduce my need for coughs and distraction. I want to know that the joy of my children, their visions of sugarplums, will be rewarded and that the season will dance all the more for it. The future holds plenty of cynicism—it’s not going anywhere—why introduce doubt where only happiness exists? What’s wrong with keeping childhood whole and untainted for just a little while longer?
I believe that Santa Claus would like that.