The Death of Santa Clause

A few days ago, a situation presented itself that forced an evil necessary. My son, Garrett, 9, discovered Santa Clause is a piece, a fine piece, of an imaginary world. He doesn’t exist. His reindeer do not exist. The elves are bits of fantasy and that famous home near the North Pole, nope – not there. My wife gently explained the history of the real St. Nick.

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.”

After shedding a few tears, my wife (who shed some tears too) and my boy consoled each other. There and then, Garrett took a step away from childhood and a step closer to the adult world, a terrible, necessary, inevitable step; yet, Garrett has embraced the real St. Nick, locked him in his heart and discovered the magic of a man, a real man, who wanted to love more than he wanted to be loved. Yes, that is magic, a better magic. To love all…wonderful magic.

Garrett will be fine. There is still magic in this world, even for us adults.


The Death of Santa Clause

He’s had the chest pains for weeks,
but doctors don’t make house
calls to the North Pole,

he’s let his Blue Cross lapse,
blood tests make him faint,
hospital gown always flap

open, waiting rooms upset
his stomach, and it’s only
indigestion anyway, he thinks,

until, feeding the reindeer,
he feels as if a monster fist
has grabbed his heart and won’t

stop squeezing. He can’t
breathe, and the beautiful white
world he loves goes black,

and he drops on his jelly belly
in the snow and Mrs. Claus
tears out of the toy factory

wailing, and the elves wring
their little hands, and Rudolph’s
nose blinks like a sad ambulance

light, and in a tract house
in Houston, Texas, I’m 8,
telling my mom that stupid

kids at school say Santa’s a big
fake, and she sits with me
on our purple-flowered couch,

and takes my hand, tears
in her throat, the terrible
news rising in her eyes.

by Charles Harper Webb

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