'I told him he was wrong,' she replied. 'I told him, "If Santa isn't real, then who eats all of the cookies?"'
My 5-year-old crinkled her face at the dinner table. This was not in protest to our meal, something was weighing heavy on her mind.
"What's up?" I asked.
"A boy at school told me that Santa doesn't exist," she said.
"Well, what do you think?" I said.
"I told him he was wrong," she replied. "I told him, 'If Santa isn't real, then who eats all of the cookies?'"
This, she told me, swayed others to her side. I asked how all of the presents get to the people if there is no Santa.
"He said they hire people to do it," she answered.
"Who hires the people?" I asked. She said he did not know the answer, which once again proved her point.
This year, especially, my daughters are really big fans of the red man. My 2-year-old promised she wouldn't cry when she met him. She has a much better handle on conversation this year, and I think she was really excited to have a real conversation with such a big celebrity.
My 5-year-old is getting really sharp with her writing. Last year, she filled her letter to Santa with scribbles that represented all the things she wanted and some stickers for style. But this year, she was excited to write real words. This, she predicted, should clear up the lines of communication and make for a smoother holiday.
My little one wants one thing: a doll. Her sister, on the other hand, wants all of the things. I think she subscribes to the idea that if you over-ask, you'll ultimately get more than what you really wanted.
She wrote her first list around Thanksgiving. As she wrote, she nodded to herself, satisfied by her work. She was so confident, she wrote in pen. When she was done, she handed it to me.
"Here's my list; what do you think?" she asked.
I perused it. "You shouldn't just list things you want," I said. "Santa gets millions of these things. It would be nice to say something in your letter."
"Like how I'm doing? Or should I ask how he is doing?" she brainstormed out loud.
One night, before bed, I asked them if they knew what Christmas was really all about.
My little one cupped my face in her hands. "It's God's birthday," she said without a doubt.
"Close," I said. "It's Jesus' birthday."
"That's what I meant," she said.
"If it's Jesus' birthday, where does Santa fit into all of this?" I continued.
"He brings the presents," her older sister chimed in.
"What about the kid at school who doesn't believe?" I asked. "Will he get presents?"
"Probably," she answered, "but I'm not too concerned."
David Manley is an editor at The Canton Repository. Share your stories with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @DaveManley