Today we all went over to Tri-County Mall to pick up the Hooligans’ Christmas portraits at Sears. We’ve done this in the past the day before Thanksgiving, and on those occasions we added a visit to the mall Santa, since the mall is relatively empty midday.
Last year J.Hooligan bowed out of the Santa visit. He decided he was too old, which was true in a way at nine years old. So S.Hooligan went alone, told Santa what she wanted, and got her photo taken.
This year neither child wanted to see Santa. With S., I’m a little suspicious that she’s afraid that Santa will confront her about her abysmal behavior. Or it’s part of this phase she’s going through where she sticks to her mother’s side like a bur to a wool sock. She wavered between yes and no for a bit, but ultimately chose not to tell Santa her wishes.
I also suspect that J. wishes he still wants to see Santa. J. suffered the classic disillusionment this year when his mother let it slip that Santa and the Easter Bunny aren’t real. The resentment rises to the surface every so often; several times already this fall J. has lamented for the “good old days” when he thought Santa was real.
I never let the magic of the season hang on my belief in Santa. I don’t remember any disillusionment, and I can’t recall if it’s because I didn’t believe deep down in him anyway, or if it was because I exercised a willing suspension of disbelief – a form of faith, really. I remember prodding my mother about all those department store Santas, and I willingly accepted her theory that those were all official “helpers” that looked just like the real one. Then again, maybe the notion that none of us ever sees the real Santa anyhow kind of tempered my belief. After all, they were just reasonable facsimiles, not the real thing.
As I’ve gotten older and more jaded, I’ve found that I actually believe in everything, from leprechauns to ghosts to saints who bring us gifts in December. Why the heck not? I’ve been bitterly disillusioned by believing in flesh-and-blood people who definitely exist; it was their moral compass or their dedication or their dependability that were imaginary. If real people turn out not to be real, then I should be able to belief in imaginary characters who, it may turn out, are not at all imaginary.