It happens in nearly every Christmas movie and holiday special, that point where the characters in the story ridicule the existence of Santa Claus and share 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 with 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.
Innocence may melt slowly, but once it is gone it is gone for good, and soon those winks once implied are as real as the belief that used to be.
I don’t like it.
I also don’t understand it, which means I’m either dumber than my free online IQ test suggests, or I take the whole innocence and magic thing a bit more seriously than the rest of the world. Maybe it’s a bit of both.
All I know is that when my family watches a holiday show, I don’t want to worry about what non-believing monologue is going to plant the seeds of doubt in the fertile minds of my children. I want to know that their visions of sugarplums will be rewarded and that the season will dance the more for it. The future holds plenty of cynicism—it’s not going anywhere, what’s wrong with keeping childhood untainted for just a little longer?
I think Santa Claus would like that.
Read more from Whit Honea at his site Honea Express and the popular group blog DadCentric. You can follow Whit on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).