Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

It’s been a while since I last wrote to you. My apologies.

As I grew older, I began to believe in you less and less, until finally I didn’t believe in you at all.

Hence, you may be wondering why I, at age 26, have chosen to write to you again. If you’re like my parents, you may be baffled as to why I have decided to publish this letter in a newspaper read by all my friends, family and co-workers.

But the reason is that I, more than ever, believe in you. Maybe we all do — some of us just don’t know it.

All our lives we are told you are an older, slightly overweight gentleman who sports an abundance of white facial hair and lives at the North Pole. Allegedly, you work with an union of elves who build toys for good children around the world. On Christmas Eve, you travel to 132 million homes across 175 million land miles — at least, that’s what a riveting ABC News report told me — flying with a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. As the night progresses, you break into homes by going down the chimney or, worst case scenario, breaking a window. You leave presents under a decorated tree that people have planted in their living room. And you might even drop a few lumps of coal into the stockings of naughty children.

Sure, that version of you sounds magical. Of course, it does raise a few questions such as, “What do you leave the naughty kids who actually ask for coal?” and “If elves make all the toys, why were most of mine trademarked by Hasbro and Mattel?”

For many years, I believed that version of you. Then I didn’t believe any version. I remember when I first started having doubts. There were some years in which I absolutely knew I was naughty, yet when I awoke on Christmas morning, I had presents instead of coal. That was the first hint toward my childhood epiphany. Eventually, I didn’t understand why people told fairy tales about the celebrated “jolly old elf.” But then I began to consider the metaphor behind the legend; how it could be a mainstream window to a far greater lesson in life.

The truth is, you have many versions and forms. You are not just some Christmas figure, you are an ideal, seen in the kind acts of those you help. Sometimes you are indeed the gentleman at the mall, dressed in your usual red-and-white garb, bringing joy and laughter to children who visit. But sometimes you’re the friend selflessly helping someone in their time of need. Sometimes you’re the father working two jobs to provide food and shelter for his family. Sometimes you’re the mother struggling to make ends meet for her children. Sometimes you’re the officer working tirelessly around the clock to protect a city. Sometimes you’re the soldier dedicated to preserving the freedom of a nation.

But right now, I hope you’re the person reading this, because I want to thank you for the inspiration you constantly provide. You are a symbol of what we all want to believe. That right will be rewarded. That good will prevail. That there is hope — a light within a dark world. And that reminds us of the real reason behind Christmas: one present to the world, who was born in a stable, gift-wrapped in swaddling clothes and still available to anyone who believes.

Through your perseverance and dedication, you are a reminder of what Christmas is really about. Of what life is all about.

So, from the bottom of my heart, Santa, thank you. Each and every one of you.

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