By David DeWitt
During dinner, following an unusually long moment of silence, Finn sighed heavily and, as if suddenly having a huge realization, said:
“Daddoo, I REALLY need to get a new sewing kit. With LOTS of cloth and needles and everything.”
“Really, why is that?” I asked.
“Because I want to be an elf. And I don’t have a costume. And to make a costume, I’m REALLY going to need a lot of stuff,” he said.
“You mean a Christmas elf?” I inquired.
“Yeah,” he said shortly as if, “What else?”
Over the last several weeks Finn’s questions about Santa Claus and everything relating to Christmas have increased in number and complexity. He has only visited Santa once, when he was two, but he still talks about it.
“So that Santa, the one that I sat on his lap, that was the real Santa right?” he asked one day randomly when we were all in the car.
“What do you think?” we responded.
“I think he was,” he continued, “But if HE was the real Santa who are all the other Santas?”
“Good question,” Erin said.
We gave him the usual spiel about them all being Santa’s helpers.
“Why do they want to be Santa’s helpers?” he asked. “And why does he need SO many helpers? Isn’t he like magic and can do anything? And how can he go all around the world in one night?!”
He had posed the “around-the-world-in-one-night” question a week or so earlier after having a conversation with friends. Someone (it was never clear who) had “looked it up on the internet” and said it was “impossible.”
Before the age of Too Much Information, it seemed much easier to maintain the mythology of Santa Claus. There was some sharing of opinions among friends but very few of us kids dared to say that anything related to Santa was “impossible.”
Santa was real for me until I was eight. My Mom had a stock line about Santa when we posed questions that demonstrated a waning belief in his existence.
“When you stop believing in him, he stops coming to visit,” she said.
None of us wanted that. Though it actually turned out not to be true, it did keep the mysticism alive for a while longer.
Even in our teens and early twenties, at Christmas time, my siblings and I could often be heard shouting in earshot of our Mom, “I believe Santa! I believe!”
“Yeah, I know you do!” she’d reply with a chuckle.
Back at the dinner table, my conversation with Finn continued…
“By the way, Daddoo, are Christmas elves real?” he said, searching my eyes intensely.
“What do you think?” I said.
“Ummm.” There was a pause. “Could be!” he said. “And anyway, even if they’re not real, I can still PRETEND to be one.”
“That’s right,” I said.
“So I still need the stuff to make the costume,” he said.
“I understand,” I said, “We’ll get to work on that.”
Christmas magic is alive and well in Ulster County.