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Chris Graham: Sure, Virginia, there’s a Santa Claus, why not?

You ask, Virginia, if there’s a Santa Claus. I say, sure, why not? Now, admittedly, this isn’t the most confident of answers, so I apologize here at the outset.

Santa39I haven’t the slightest if there is or isn’t. There, I admit it. Could be a Santa, couldn’t be.

So why do I come down on the side of, sure, why not? Look around. Most of the year, society couldn’t care less about those less fortunate. Not to denigrate us, and I include me in us, but people are homeless, people are hungry, 364 other days a year. But on Christmas, look at what happens. People look out for their fellow man.

(Actually, there’s one other day we care, Thanksgiving. The other 363 days, we turn our noses up at the thought.)

The idea of some lady ringing a bell outside our favorite store to get us to give them our loose change is repellent 11 months out of the year. The 12th month, though, we go out of our way to use cash when most of us have long since graduated to plastic just so we don’t have to pass by empty-handed.

Companies put on toy drives so that kids who’d otherwise do without have something under the tree.

We all go out of our way to tell people we know, barely know, don’t know at all, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, whatever we’re comfortable with.

(One guy walking down the sidewalk in front of my house even said, “May God bless you.” I repeated it back. What a nice sentiment.)

We don’t do this kind of stuff the rest of the year. To hell with passersby, to kids who have birthdays without presents, to the hungry, to anybody and everybody, really.

We’ve all got lives to live, important things to do.

There but for the grace of God go I? Sure, but I’m not there, so …

I don’t believe much of what I hear about this Santa Claus guy. The stuff about flying around the world to deliver toys, for example. The notion that the toys are made by elves kinda makes sense, with what we know about the working environment in China, with little kids in the role of elves.

By and large, though, what the Santa guy represents, we all seem to be buying. He marked the birth of Christ by delivering gifts to children, inspired, I want to assume, by the story of the three wise men, who bestowed gifts upon little baby Jesus.

And so it is that we follow in his giant footsteps and deliver gifts to each other. I think we tend to get way, way, way too caught up in the commercial part of the enterprise, but the cynic might argue that’s just another gift that we give to ourselves, because, think about it, where would our consumer economy be without the orgy of spending that passes for Christmas spirit in our modern society?

The more valuable gifts are the ones dating back to the three wise men that I want to think are Santa’s forebears, guys who knew literally how to read the stars and give to someone less fortunate, and come on, think about it, who is less fortunate than a baby boy born in a barn to an unwed mother engaged to a humble carpenter?

So you ask, Virginia, is there a Santa Claus? I don’t pretend to know anything, much less everything, but I do believe that there is something intrinsically redeeming in all of us, and that this Santa character that we’ve created to personify what we want to see in ourselves is something that we very much want to be real.


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