December 23, 2005

Point / Counterpoint


Hello. I'm Theresa Farrisi, a substitute teacher in Lickdale, Pennsylvania. I would just like to say that I don't believe in Santa Claus, and I don't think anyone else should, either. I made my feelings clear to a classroom full of 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds.

While some of them went home crying, I cannot stress enough that if I had simply sat back and allowed a lie to be perpetuated in my presence, I would have had a hard time sleeping that night. I had considered approaching the school’s administration with my concerns about how to handle Santa Claus in class. Instead, I decided to add a disclaimer to my lesson.

One of the 5-year-olds in the music class that I was substitute teaching in was reading A Visit From Saint Nicholas. Just as she had gotten to the part about the arrival of the little sleigh and 8 tiny reindeer, I interupted the reading to point out to the little children that this was all bullshit. I mean, how could I not?! Those same children are going to know someday that what their parents taught them is false; there is no Santa Claus.

While the poem has great literary value, it goes against my conscience to teach something which I know to be false to children, who are impressionable. It’s a story. I taught it as a story. There’s no real person called Santa Claus living at the North Pole and it is my duty as a teacher to teach only the truth no matter how much it stings, torments and confuses the kiddies.

Now, some of the children -- through their beautiful tears of newfound enlightenment -- asked their parents why they weren't told that Santa Claus was dead. I did not tell the students Santa Claus was dead. I said there was a man named Nickolas of Myrna who died in 343 A.D., upon whom the Santa Claus myth is based, and that the children's parents buy the presents, not Santa.

Was I wrong? Humbug! Their parents are lying to them! Why wait for them to figure out the truth as they mature when I can tell them the truth now? How could I live with myself if I didn't spoil their innocent illusions?

If the children are heartbroken they have only their parents to blame. I told them the truth and, yes, I am very proud of myself.


Theresa, you ignorant Ho, Ho, Ho! Allow me to counter your point by paraphrasing something that was written many, many years ago to a young child; a child much like the children whose faith you have cynically attempted to shatter.

Theresa, you are wrong!

You have been infected by the skepticism of a sceptical age. You do not believe in anything except for what you can see, touch, smell, taste, hear or otherwise measure. You believe that nothing can be which is not comprehensible to your own mind. But all minds, Theresa, whether they be men's or children's, are little. And, when we limit our faith to accept only what we can meaaure, sadly we fail to notice what is immeasurable, what is magical, what is beautiful.

Yes, Theresa, there is a Santa Claus, just as there is music in the silent vibrations of the air when a piano is played. Play a recorded symphony in a room without listeners and there is no music -- only a disturbance of the air. But walk into that room and there is music. But only for those who have the ears to listen!

Santa Claus exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound. They give your life its highest beauty and joy. How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as a world without children.

There would be no childlike faith then. No poetry, faith, romance, beauty or wonder to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment except in mere sense and sight. The magic and wonder of the external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Nobody sees Santa Claus. But that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Have you ever seen the wind? Have you ever heard a headache, tasted a sorrow, touched a suspicion or smelled a word of encouragement? Of course not. But that's no proof that they are not there. We know that they are are there from what follows from them. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are, unseen and unseeable, in the world that is our experience of it.

You can tear apart a baby's rattle to see what makes the noise inside. But there is a veil covering the unseen world that is the confluence of the toy and the baby which neither the strongest man nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and allow a view of the supernal beauty within.

Is it all real? Ah, Theresa, in all this life there is nothing else more real and abiding.

No Santa Claus? He lives and lives forever! A thousand years from now, Theresa, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make joyful the very heart of childhood.

Merry Christmas! :)

Posted by Tuning Spork at December 23, 2005 03:26 PM | TrackBack

Merry Christmas, Happy Chaunaka, Blessed Kwanza and Rowdy Festivus! ;) Personally, I used to worship artificial plastic evergreens, but have recently expanded that to include plastic artificial grow...

Posted by: Susie at December 24, 2005 09:17 AM

Merry Christmas to you too Spork! And Happy Happy Joy Joy for the new year.

Posted by: Edith at December 25, 2005 12:34 PM
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