Santa Claus is Real. I recall Las Fiestas de Navidad in Orange Grove, Texas. It was a time of fun, excitement and love. We had a small Christmas tree with some adornments. Empty stockings for Santa to put our presents in. There was also a stocking for Santa. It had an orange and an apple from the train. My parents would increase the tempo of the celebration days before.




There were always buñuelos, tamales and my favorite – dulce de leche quemada. I have often been called goloso. This is probably where I acquired the taste for sweets. There was no shortage. We could not enjoy such luxuries every week. My mom was a working mom. She did not have time to feast us with such niceties often. A strange train would bring in boxcars loaded with food and we would all line up and get powdered milk, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, oranges, bananas and apples. We knew there would presents from Santa Claus. On Christmas Eve, everyone was so quiet. No noise. We all wanted to see Santa Claus. Of course, being young we succumbed to sleep. We would wake up in the morning and sneak to the tree to see what Santa Claus had left us. We were never disappointed and always grateful that Santa Claus had such a big heart. Then one day I had my first disappointment. I heard that Santa was not real. I was confused. How could such a good man not be real? How could my parents lie to me? I had to put it to the test. Wait one more year and see what happens. Next year we went through the same celebration. And Santa came.

Of course, when you go to a public school there is always going to be some smart aleck that knows it all. Sure, enough Santa was not real. That however, posed a more perplexing problem. Why were adults celebrating Christmas? I thought this was for children. For a young man of 6 or 7 this was complicated math. Years later I would run into another quandary. I was still a young man of 18 when I joined the Army. My very first assignment was to Germany. Being Americans we celebrated Christmas as we did in America. We were stationed inside kasernes – secluded fortresses isolated from the Germans. Kind of. Many Germans still worked at our kaserne. Europeans celebrated January 6, the Day of the Epiphany, Three Kings Day, dia de los reyes majos. The day the kings brought gifts to Jesus, the day the Europeans gathered to exchange gifts.

But it was also more than an exchange of gifts; there was also a religious component. Somebody please explain this Christian conundrum to me. This was another mystery I had to solve. Because see, now I had a real problem. There was no longer a Santa Claus but three kings being Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. None of them named Santa Claus. This young man from South Texas that grew up believing in Santa Claus was confused. Years later I noticed that Santa Claus had conquered Europe and countries celebrated Christmas. There was a reasonable reason for this to happen.

By January 6 all children are getting ready to go back to school. They don’t have time to enjoy their presents. Years later when I had my own children, I had to decide how to tell them about Santa Claus. I decided that they could find out like me. Let them live the moment. Let them be joyous. If Christmas is going to bring people together, “Let it come, Let it come, Let it come”. Living with the spirit of Christmas. Enjoy the holidays. Enjoy your children. They will get older sooner than you think. Go outside Christmas Day and shake your neighbor’s hand. Say “Merry Christmas”. Try it. Santa Claus is real.


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