A Christmas Story by K. B. Pellegrino

Delia stood crying at the transition door from the kitchen to the family room in her home. Her three children were in the next room discussing the truth behind the existence of Santa Claus. She was remembering how she hated when her older boy Jake returned home one day from fourth-grade years ago and announced he no longer believed in the Santa myth. She tried then not to show her distress while wondering how she could change Jake’s mind. It was not to be changed! He explained to her he had scientific objective evidence that Santa did not exist. He was not to be persuaded; but he was also a great believer in what he decided Santa was. He assured her Santa was the greatest gift ever given to little children. As a little boy, he insisted, “All parents, even poor and lousy parents, Mom, get gifts for their kids, and kids love getting gifts. It’s all good, Mom, not to worry.” He was nine years old with the wisdom of advanced years.

Jake was now fifteen and listening to one of his eight-year-old twin siblings, Bartholomew, who was in serious distress. Bart’s twin Fiona was also sitting silently, listening to Bart. Delia wasn’t worried about Fiona. She knew Fiona was going on sixty mentally and was so well anchored about life Delia and her husband often wondered if she were truly human. The story Bart was relaying had to do with his friend at school, Alan Bardwell; who had told him, only little foolish children believed in Santa, explaining, “You’ve never seen a sleigh with reindeer in the sky. It’s stupid to fall for that story.” Since Alan Bardwell was the best student in the fourth grade, Bart knew he would know the truth.

Delia wanted to go and hug Bart; keep him believing for just one more year. And yet she knew this was about the time children give it up, give up believing. It made her heartsick. Her real tears came when she heard Jake respond. “Bartholomew, why are you crying? I wait for Santa Claus every year with you and Fiona. We put out his milk and cookies. We don’t know if it’s a man in a red suit with reindeer. What if it’s Mom and Dad! They like milk and cookies. If it’s them, and they work to make us hopeful, well, for one, I’m happy.”

Fiona, who loved to tease her more sensitive twin, showed a sympathetic side seldom seen, saying, “It’s Christmas. Even Uncle Jamison, who’s in the FBI doesn’t complain about society at Christmas dinner. Everyone’s nicer. Mom says she just loves Santa. If Santa’s Daddy, I’m okay with getting presents from him.”

Bartholomew looked at them both; astounded. He stopped his tears, straightened his little shoulders, saying, “I can’t believe you’re on Alan Bardwell’s side. Even if what you say is true, I want to believe in Santa Claus and his reindeer in the sky and I’m going to. I like to dream more than you both. I’m always happy. I choose to be happy. I’m going to believe in Santa Claus always!

Jake and Fiona looked lost for a moment. Jake responded, “What do you say, Fiona, let’s choose to be happy. Bart, go get the Santa blowup from the basement. We’ll start decorating.”

A crying but pleased Delia looked at her life’s work and believed in Christmas and Santa Claus.

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