Little children wholeheartedly believe what their parents start out telling them and Santa represents something joyful that they want their children to experience.
I certainly was a big believer and I strove especially hard around the middle of November to be good, knowing that being good was the requirement to stay on Santa's good side! I no longer remember for sure about other kids I went to school with. Didn't everyone still believe in Santa year after year like I did? I have no recollection of any smart-aleck kid going around spreading the bad news that Santa wasn't real!
In fact the only one who ever said anything of the sort to me was my teen-aged Uncle Joe. When I was around 3 or 4 I stayed with my Grandparents for a few weeks because my mom was in the hospital (recovering from an appendectomy).
Anyway Uncle Joe was only about 14 or so and thus, still lived at home. I can remember vividly that he would tickle me and tease me, and as the topper he would growl, "Awww, there ain't no Santy Claus!!" This, of course, would first make me mad, then I'd cry and go running off to my Gram to tell her what he said. She would cuddle me and soothe me and reassure me that he was just teasing because that's what boys do! Of course, there was a Santa Claus! And if I was a good girl he would come to my house at Christmas and leave lots of presents, just for me!
So I KNEW there was a Santa because my Gram told me so! And everybody knows Grandmas always tell the truth!
When I was 6 or so, we moved to Florida and settled in a small, seaside town about midway between Jacksonville and Miami. Although many years later it bloomed into a much larger, more affluent community, back then the population was still under 8,000. In the early and mid-1950s, TV had not yet burst upon the home entertainment industry. Radio was the thing!
Even this small town had its own locally owned and operated radio station! WTTB, Where The Tropics Begin, were the call letters of the station. It was an independent station which did its own programming, local news, sponsored by the shops and businesses the whole town used. Each year WTTB had a show every night for a few weeks before Christmas, where Santa Claus would read letters he had received from the kids right there in our town. Wow!
Although we were originally from Chicago, I had no difficulty adjusting to the warmer weather all year round. Who needs cold weather? In cold weather I got sick! In warm weather, I didn't. It was a no brainer....why would I ever want to go back to cold, snowy, icy Chicago? I was going to stay in Florida forever! Not even the lack of snow at Christmastime bothered me. Santa still came. He was on the radio! He still left lots of presents just for me!
So I continued along all through 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd and 4th Grades....still believing in Santa without question!
Then came 5th grade. 5th grade was that pivotal year, the year I began to question the existence of Santa!! I wasn't exactly sure....I was sort of sure that he wasn't real, but I wasn't absolutely positive. I asked my mom all about it and she had an answer for every question I asked!
*No chimney? --- Santa was magic and could get in easily.
*No snow for reindeer to land in? --- They could land in sand!
*Did reindeer really fly? --- Of course, how else would Santa get around in one night? (She was a crafty one, my Mom!)
Well, it wasn't enough for me. I still wasn't sure. Mom suggested that I write him a letter and ask him! So I did....and just in case, I included my list of things that I wanted for Christmas! (I was pretty crafty too!!)
We sent off my letter addressed to Santa Claus, WTTB, Vero Beach, Fla. And I settled in waiting for Santa to answer my letter on the radio. Each evening we would listen to the program and Santa would read letter after letter, but he never read my letter. I was more and more sure that meant there really wasn't a Santa Claus, but each night mom convinced me to listen again because that night might be the night he read my letter.
When it was just a few days before Christmas and I was finding it harder and harder to think that Santa could possibly be real, finally he read my letter!! After reading it he said,
"Well, Linda, you've been a pretty good girl this year and that makes me really happy. Still I think you need to work a little harder on your math homework. I know that 5th grade math is tough for you, especially fractions. But I promise that the more you work at it the easier it will get! And the other thing is, you aren't doing a very good job brushing your teeth. You know that the dentist told you about paying special attention to those teeth way in the back. You really need to work harder on those back teeth! Okay?
Then he said, "Linda also asked me a question. She asked me if I was really, truly sure that Santa Claus was real." (Then he HoHoHo'ed a bit.) "Well, Linda, that's kind of a hard question, because I know that I'm real the same way you know you are real. If I get pinched it hurts. If I hear a funny joke I laugh. But I can't prove I'm real any more than you can prove that you are real. The best we can do is know that as long as other people believe that we are really truly real, then we really, truly are real. And that is how it will always be. Now you remember about those fractions and your brushing, okay? And have a really, truly Merry Christmas!"How did he know those things?? How did he know just what my dentist said??? He wasn't there, was he? He "Must Be Santa" Claus, nobody else would know about me and fractions and the dentist. And he answered my question. he's just as real as I am! He said so! There IS a Santa Claus and that was really, truly HIM!!!
I was amazed, I was thrilled, I was laughing, I was happy and dancing around the room, singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town". It was enough to keep me believing in Santa for one more year.
Obviously, at some point I couldn't push it any further and I learned what all the other kids learned and I accepted that your Mom and Dad bought your presents, and that reindeer didn't fly, and that there was no such thing as elves!
But did that mean Uncle Joe was right? "There ain't no Santy Clause???" No, absolutely not! That just isn't true. Even today, 50+ years later, there are still kids all over the world who believe in Santa, so that means that he is still really, truly real. After all, Santa, himself, told me so! And everybody knows that Santa always tells the truth!