Yes, There is a Santa Claus
by Adan Torres
“Two more Days till Christmas!” shouted Alejandro in class. He was so excited. Christmas has always been his favorite time of year. People were usually happier, there were always more family visits and dinners,and of course, Santa Claus will be bringing presents to him and his brother.
“Aren’t you guys excited?!” Alejandro asked his friends, Brian and Tomas, as the final bell sounded. “What do you think Santa is going to bring you guys?” He asked again.
Brian looked at him with a puzzled face. “Seriously dude? You’re 11 years old, you know Santa isn’t real, don’t you?”
“Of course he’s real!” Alejandro exclaimed. “How else do we get our presents on Christmas morning?”
“Um, your mom and dad, dude.” Tomas quipped as he and Brian walked away. “Have a good vacation, Alex. Hope Santa brings you something nice.” They shouted from down the hall.
The school kids were ready for their winter break. Two weeks of laying around and fun in the snow, but best of all, two weeks of no school!
Sitting and staring at the falling snow the next morning, Alex began to think about his exchange with his friends the day before. His mind became restless. “Why would Brian say that Santa isn’t real?” He whispered to himself. “How else would presents get to all the boys and girls of the world in just one night if it wasn’t for Santa? Why would Dad and Mom trick me and Anjel?” He whispered to himself again.
He tried to keep his mind off the possibility that his entire childhood,and his belief in the magic of Christmas, was a lie. He spent his day playing video games, playing outside in the snow with his little brother Anjel, putting up decorations, and watching Christmas movies. But nothing seemed to work. Alejandro just wasn’t his usual joyful self.
“What’s wrong Alejandro?” His brother asked.
“Anjel, are you excited for Santa?” He asked in response.
“YES!” Anjel shouted. “I’ve been real good this year and I think Santa is going to bring me something nice!” He says again with a huge smile on his face.
“How will Santa get in the house though, Anjel? We don’t have a chimney. How does he fly to all the boys and girls in the entire world in just one night?” asked Alex.
“Christmas Magic!” Anjel clamored. “You do believe in Santa, don’t you Alejandro?” his little brother muttered.
Alejandro, seeing the worried look on his brothers face, quickly answered “Of course I do Anjel! Santa is probably getting his sled ready as we speak!” He exclaimed.
Anjel’s face lit right up and he began to dance. “Santa is coming! Santa is coming!” he sang. Alejandro joined in for a bit, hoping to recapture his Christmas Spirit, but to little success. He slowly distanced himself from his excited brother and walked to their library. He was still doubting, and this made him sad.
“I’m home, everybody!” echoed through the house.
“Dad is home!” Shouts Anjel.
They both jump from the couch, where they sat under the comfort of their blankets, to greet their father. They run up to the side door where they see him taking off his work boots and coat,
and shaking off the cold.
“So dad, are you on vacation now too?” Alejandro asked.
“I sure am, mijo!” I won’t go back to work until after the new year!” Says his dad. “Wow, it really looks nice in here with all the Christmas lights on!” he says walking into the living room and hugging his wife. Quickly bringing his attention back the boys, he asked “Are you guys excited? Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I bet Santa is putting all the toys in his magic sack as we speak!” He said, lifting Anjel in the air and spinning him. After putting his youngest down, he turned to look at Alejandro and noticed a strained look on his face.
“Alejandro, is everything okay?” he asked inquisitively. “Are you not excited about Santa?” He followed.
“I guess” he replied. “ I mean, yes, of course” he quickly added, not wanting his father to know his doubts.
“Okay then! Is everybody ready to go to the mall? We have some christmas shopping to do for your Tios and Primos still!”
The boys excitedly ran to put on their shoes and coats, and off they were to the mall!
The mall was a flurry of activity when they arrived. There were people everywhere!
“Are these people hurrying to trick their children as well?” the thought crossed Alejandro’s mind.
He watched as crowds of shoppers rushed in and out of stores like prairie dogs running into their burrows. Left and right he would see people with shopping bags on both arms, rushing along their children who were easily distracted by the toy kiosks that ran as far as the eyes could see.
Even though Alex was burdened by his doubts, he was still taken aback by the joyful sounds of the mall pianist. The cheerful arrangements echoed Christmas music through the entire building, as though the beautiful melodies were coming out of thin air. He was amazed by the miles of holly that hung from the banisters like waves of mirrors, reflecting each of the millions of Christmas lights, like tiny, colorful, crystals. He was captivated by the giant baubles of green and red that hung down from the ceiling and around the chandeliers. It seemed to just float there, like a whisper; and of course, the giant Christmas Tree, so wonderfully decorated from bottom to top with a giant star atop it.
In front of the tree, there seemed to be a long line of children. Moving closer to the commotion, Alejandro was finally able to see what the fuss was about. There, in front of the line was a big sign that read
“Meet Santa Clause”
Alex, walked away from his parents while they were paying for their gifts for a quick second to take closer look. There sitting on a huge chair was Santa, dressed in his usual red and white suit, and thick white beard. Alejandro smiled. There was a little girl sitting on Santa's lap telling him her Christmas list. She went on and on for what seemed to be forever, but then as they were finishing, and the photo was taken, she reached up and tugged on Santa's beard. She had pulled it down and it revealed the man's clean shaven face underneath.
Alejandro exhaled. “Figures.” he scoffed.
“Okay. That should do it!” he heard his mom say. “I think we have everyone.” she finished.
“Wait!” Alex shouted to his mother. “I wanted to buy something for my cousin Charlie and Kevin, and Anjel too!” He said.
“Well Alex, do you know what you want to buy them?” She asked.
“Yes, I do.” he replied, happily.
Alex walked his family to the toy store and bought his cousin Charlie a huge stuffed character from his favorite movie and his cousin Kevin a toy firetruck with lights and sirens.
“I think your cousins are really going to like their gifts, son.” his father said, putting his arms around Alex’s shoulders. “I’m sure of it!” He said again.
And home they went to wrap the remainder of their presents.
The morning of Chistmas Eve had come. As usual, that day would be a busy one. Alejandro and Anjel would come down from their rooms to their dad cooking breakfast. Their mom would be getting things together to visit their Grandparents home. This day would always seem to fly by quickly. They would spend most of the day cooking, eating, and watching television.
Alejandro was growing increasingly anxious. He would watch his Aunts and Uncles arrive one at a time and place their presents under the family tree. He would watch his little brother and cousins dance around the living room chanting “Here comes Santa Claus, Here comes Santa Claus!” Everybody’s face was bright with joy and laughter, yet he was still troubled. He knew Christmas morning was coming, and as tradition would have it, the family would meet back at his “Titos” to exchange gifts, and everyone would be asking what “Santa” had brought them.
“Nothing. Apparently.” He whispered to himself as he imagined the scene.
How he wished he could still be like his little brother and younger cousins, bursting with excitement over the thought of Santa arriving at their homes overnight; at the fantasy of elves making the final preparations, the reindeers being fed and the gift sack being filled, and of course, of Santa checking his list one last time. Alex wished he could feel that Christmas Spirit, but unfortunately, all he felt was doubt.
Night time had come. It was finally Christmas Eve and their family was back at home. As they sat by the tree and drank their hot chocolate, Alejandro stared aimlessly towards the lights on the tree.
“Okay boys, time for bed. Don’t want Santa to shoot past our home because you guys are still awake!” their father joked.
Anjel jumped from his seat! “Yes! Santa is on his way!” he shouted. He ran into the kitchen and grabbed the plate of cookies and the glass of milk his mother and he had prepared to put out by the tree. He gave his father a monster hug and ran up the stairs with his mom following behind.
As Alejandro got up to walk upstairs, he heard his father speak. “Alex, can you hang back a moment? I’d like to speak with you before bed, if that’s okay.” he says.
Alex looked at his dad, nodded his head and sat back on the couch next to him.
“I can see you’ve been troubled the last couple of days. Christmas is usually your favorite time of year, but you’ve been moping around this entire time. What’s wrong? You can talk to me, mijo.” his father reassured.
Alejandro looked up at his dad. He knew he had never lied to him before. He was sure he would tell him the truth. At least, he had hoped.
“Right before school was over, my friend Brian and Tomas said that Santa isn't real. That you and mom were the ones that put the presents under the tree on Christmas Eve. Is that true, dad? Is Santa not real? Have you been lying to me all this time?” He asked with a sorrowed face.
“Ah, I see.” his father started. “Well Alex, the answer to your question is yes, Santa is very real. However, your mother and I are the ones that put yours and your brother’s presents under the tree every Christmas Eve.”
Alejandro looked confused. “I don’t understand. How can Santa be real but you and mom are the ones that buy our presents and put them under the tree?” he asked.
His father smiled and put his hand on his son's shoulder. “Let me explain, son.” he said. “Santa Claus is based on a real person named St. Nicholas. You’ve heard this before, right?” he asked.
“Well, Nicholas was a young man who was left a lot of money after his parents died, a very long time ago. He would spend his money, helping people in need. There are even stories he would put a sack of gold in a stocking that was left by a fireplace overnight to dry. He’d always try to help secretly because he wouldn’t help for attention or thanks. He did it because it made him feel good to help people in need. He did it because it would make others happy. Many years after, he became a Bishop and would continue to do good deeds for the people of his community until his death. When he was canonized, that’s what it’s called when a person is recognized as a Saint, travelers would hear about St. Nick, the man who would secretly leave gifts for people in need and was especially loving of children. The travelers took these stories to their countries and the story of Santa Claus was born.”
Alejandro sat and listened to his father speak. “But dad” he interjected, “How is Santa real if he died so very long ago?”
“That’s the magical part, mijo!” his father said with a big smile. “Soon the story of good ‘ole St. Nick reached all parts of the world.” his father continued. “People instantly fell in love with the kindness and generosity of Nicholas and were inspired by his deeds. To honor his memory and his life, they would secretly leave presents for their loved ones, as well as give money to those in need. They would do so secretly, not for the attention or thanks, but because it would make others happy, just like Santa did. They also decided that on December 25th, Christmas, the day that we celebrate another kind and generous man, they would honor the memory and spirit of St. Nick. That’s where the term “Christmas Spirit” comes from. During this time, where everyone is kinder to one another and more giving to each other, the Spirit of St. Nicholas is inside of us. He lives through us! So on Christmas Eve when the children are fast asleep, Santa very much visits all the kids in the world and delivers gifts to them. He does this through the Christmas Spirit!”
Alejandro’s face lit up! “Dad, why didn’t you ever tell me this before?” he asked.
“Well, when you are young, you have to believe in the magic. You have to experience it for yourself before you understand where it comes from. Your little brother believes in the magic. See, that’s the only way it works. The children have to believe to bring it life!”
His father stood up and walked Alex into their room. He took him to their closet and behind the clothes there was a bag of gifts he had never seen before. They were wrapped in bright red and green colors, with wonderful silk bows. On them was written the name “Santa Claus.”
“Now that you are older, Alex, it’s time for you to also honor the Spirit of Christmas. It’s time for you to bring St. Nick back to life.”
Alejandro felt a rush of joy and happiness enter his body. He understood now what the magic of Christmas was. It was about giving. He grabbed the bag of gifts and walked with his father back to the family tree. One by one, he and his parents arranged the gifts under the lights. When they had finished, he looked up at his father.
“Thanks dad. Thanks for being honest with me and thanks for helping me understand.” he said.
His father smiled. “You’re very welcome, mijo.” he said. “Now, off to bed with you.” he said.
As Alex laid in bed, he couldn’t help thinking back to the people in the mall. How they would rush in and out of stores with presents, as if they had just come out of Santa’s shop. He recalled how they would cross names off of their lists as they exited stores. He would ponder about how they would drop money into the donation banks at the entrances and exits of the mall. How they would load their bags of gifts into the trunks of their cars, as if they were loading their sleighs. He thought about how the parents would drive their reindeer home to their own shops and wrap the gifts for their loved ones and then secretly place them under their tree for them to find in the morning. Never taking credit or needing thanks. He now understood what the Christmas Magic was. How the magic can bring St. Nicholas back to life to continue his good deeds, his kindness and his generosity. How the Christmas Magic made Santa real. He saw it on the faces of them all, and even though he was very excited for Christmas morning, he drifted off to sleep.
The next morning he was awakened by Anjel.
“Alejandro! Alejandro! Wake up, it’s Christmas!” he shouted.
Alex, sat up in bed and saw the excitement on his little brothers face. “Do you think Santa came?!” he asked.
“Yes! Of course he did!” Anjel shouted.
They both jumped out of bed and ran down the stairs. “He came! He came!” chanted Anjel. Pointing to the presents under the tree, Anjel zipped into his parents room and jumped right onto their bed, instantly waking them up!
“Merry Christmas, Mom! Merry Christmas, Dad!” Anjel shouted. “Santa came! Get up and see!” he shouted excitedly.
The parents got up and the family opened gifts together. Alejandro sat contently next to his dad the entire time. He sat and watched the excitement of his little brother and the joy he felt. This time he felt the joy as well, only, he felt it as Santa would feel it. It was the joy of giving without needing anything in return.
After the presents were all opened, they cleaned up and got ready to visit their grandparents home, as per tradition. As they were getting ready to leave, Alejandro’s father grabbed him by the shoulder and turned him around. “Alex, aren’t you forgetting something?” he asked.
Alex was confused.
His father turned back to the family tree and pointed. There behind the tree was a hidden present. Alex slowly walked back towards the tree. He didn’t recognize that present and he and his parents put them all out the previous night. He lifted the brightly wrapped box to find his name printed on it with the words “From: Santa Claus” with a note written next to it. The note read “Alejandro, thank you for believing.” Alex gasped and looked back at his father.
“Looks like Santa came and delivered one last gift for you, son.” his father said with a smirk.
Even though Alex knew how that present had gotten there, he allowed himself to believe as a child, one last time. He closed his eyes and imagined Santa’s sleigh fly across the night sky and place the gift under the tree and then disappear back into his sleigh and ride his reindeer off, to deliver gifts to all the kids around the world. He opened his eyes and walked to his father, giving him a hug. “Merry Christmas, dad.” he said. “Merry Christmas, mijo.” his father said back.
Christmas had come and gone, as well as New Years and school had resumed. As Alejandro walked into class, he saw his best friends Brian and Tomas waiting for him. “ Hey guys! How was your vacation?” Alex asked.
“Not bad.” said Brian. “I got a new video game.” he said.
“So Alex,” Tomas interrupted, “Did Santa come to your house?” he mocked in a teasing manner.
Alejandro smiled, and with a wink in his eye he answered, “Yes. He most certainly did.”