Just before Christmas, I was in my wife’s hairdressing shop, Le Look in Barrhaven. I was picking up my stepson on the way home from work, and he was patiently sitting in the back of the shop playing a game. When I went to get him, he was reluctant to get up and leave the store. I figured that was just because it was cold outside and he wanted to finish whatever was going on in that game.
Then I realized that he wasn’t playing his game at all, but rather sneaking glimpses in the mirror at the man sitting in the chair behind him – it was Santa. An elderly gentleman with a massive white beard was getting a trim. And my stepson didn’t want to leave because he was still debating whether he was going to approach Santa. Part of him was thinking “that can’t be the real Santa…can it?” and another part was thinking “I shouldn’t bother him – I could end up on the naughty list!”
In the end, I think that he figured Santa had received his letter anyway, and to further press the issue with him could result in an awkward situation if not outright banishment to the naughty list. So he came home, albeit reluctantly. On Christmas Eve, he was a little torn. Although one part of him felt that he was likely too old to continue believing in Santa, another part felt that if he didn’t believe, and he was wrong, then he could be screwing himself out of more presents.
So, just in case, he put out cookies and milk. And a saucer full of sugar for the reindeer. I pointed out that in all the stories I had heard about Christmas, the reindeer never came down the chimney with Santa. But he insisted that although they may well not do so, that it was at the very least plausible, and better safe than sorry. His extra attention to detail paid off the very next day, you see, since he got a present from “the elf”. He had been certain the elf would think of him because he had always laid out extra cookies for him as well. Just in case on Christmas Eve he wasn’t confined to the workshop and was able to go with Santa on a ride-along.
Come Christmas morning, when all the presents were opened, he explained in some detail the story of Christmas. To my astonishment, it had nothing to do with the birth of Santa, but rather this “Jesus” character. I guess people have been believing in him even longer than they have been believing in Santa. At first we had difficulty reconciling the two – does Santa do Jesus’ work, or do they have different work, or did Santa just pick Jesus’ day to do his thing and as such is stepping on his toes every year - all good questions.
Then it occurred to me that they are pretty much the same guy. They both require blind faith and an unquestioning belief, mostly based on written texts and songs. And it’s easier to believe than not to believe. Either way, you’re hedging your bets…
Next week, I’m going to get a friend with long hair and a beard to sit in that same chair wearing a robe and sandals, just to see if he gets the same reaction from other customers.