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Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays.

It is the time of year for joy, renewing friendships, fumbling with decorations for the tree, trying to figure out why the lights don’t work,  celebrating our families, shopping at Target at 9 pm trying to find the life-sized Mick Jagger wind-up toy, affirming our faith, and eating a lot. For children, it’s also a time for what the playwrights and screenwriters call “the willful suspension of disbelief.”

It’s time for the fat man with the goodies.

When she was 7 years old, my daughter Joanna appeared before me and said “Daddy, can I ask you a question?” (For the record, 7-year-olds do not walk up; they appear.)

“Of course, my angel, you can ask me anything you want.”

“Daddy, is there a Santa Claus?”

That was not “a question.” “A question” is “How do you make tapioca pudding from scratch?” Or: “What’s the largest carp on record?”

“Is there a Santa Claus?” is The Question. (With the possible exception of “Do I look fat in this dress?”)

Rebecca and I had decided that when Joanna popped The Question we would tell her the truth. So I said:

“Do you mean is there a guy in a red suit who comes down the chimney we don’t have, leaves you the presents you’ve asked for including a full working farm complete with a John Deere tractor and a goat, goes back up the chimney we don’t have, gets on a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer, takes toys to a zillion kids, eats 80 tons of chocolate chip cookies, and makes it home to the North Pole in under 24 hours?”

“Yes.”

“Do you really want to know?”

“Yes.”

INSERT DRAMATIC PAUSE HERE.

“No, there’s not.”

“You and Mom do it, right?”

“Yep.”

“I thought so.” And off she went.

After I answered Joanna’s inevitable and unavoidable question it occurred to me that no one has ever proved to a moral certainty that there is no Santa Claus. For a large number of my friends that statement alone confirms suspicions that I am spending too much time in a parallel universe.

But think about it. Just because you don’t believe something doesn’t mean it’s not true. You can say the same about leprechauns and unicorns. Just because no one has found a unicorn so far doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

I’m not talking about dogmatic belief. There are enough dogmatic kooks wandering the Earth and hosting talk radio shows already.

I’m talking about accepting the possibility of the existence of Santa, sustainable life on Uranus,  the unselfish generosity and compassion of Congress, and the Hawks winning the NBA championship.

It’s when you accept the possibility of things that you open the door to wonder, to the child locked inside, to a different way of seeing the world.

We aren’t strangers to accepting possibilities; our religions are built on it. It’s called faith. We are constantly accepting beliefs and facts that cannot be proved to a moral certainty.

When you accept the possibility that you’ll get the promotion, make the sale, close the deal, take that vacation to Kuala Lumpur, things will change. Why? Because you have crossed over to the world of the possible. It’s nice over here.

That’s my Christmas present for you. It’s the chance to see the world in a new light and to derive joy from the possibilities.

Is there a Santa Claus? I don’t know. That’s between you and him. But I’ll tell you this: I’m not going to be surprised if the doorbell rings one day and at my door is a guy in a red suit who wants to borrow a cup of reindeer food.

Happy Holidays.

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Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is a professional mentalist and mind reader who presents his unique and unforgettable program to conventions, college and universities, sales meetings, private parties, business and civic clubs and more. He has also appeared at the Punchline Comedy Club in Atlanta and produces, along with Jerry Farber and Joe M. Turner, Atlanta Magic Night at the Red Light Cafe in Midtown. He is a member of the Psychic Entertainers Association, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the Georgia Magic Club,Buckhead Rotary Club and Friends of Jim The Wonder Dog. You can learn more at www.MarkJohnsonSpeaks.com. He is the author of three books: "Living The Dream," the story of the first ten years of FedEx; "Superman, Hairspray, and the Greatest Goat On Earth," a collection of mostly true stories;, and "Yes Ma'am, You're Right: The Essential Rules For Living With A Woman."  Mark's day job is as a freelance writer and communications and marketing consultant. Mark has traveled around the world twice but has never been to Burlington, Vermont. He does not eat beets or chicken livers, and he has never read "Gone With The Wind." He is the only person he knows who was once a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists. He is a fifth generation Atlantan,  the father of three, and the grandfather of five. All offspring are demonstrably perfect. He lives in Smyrna with his wife Rebecca (aka The Goddess) and two dogs: Ferguson, an arrogant Scottish terrier; and, Lola, a Siberian husky who is still trying to figure out what the hell she's doing in Cobb County.

3 Comments
  1. I certainly believe. It’s too much fun not to!
    My favorite story about a child figuring out about Santa goes like this…
    A mother had learned that her daughter’s school friends had “clued her in” one year. But the daughter had admitted nothing. So a week before Christmas, the mother initiated a conversation with the daughter. The daughter immediately cut the mom off and replied, “Mom, can we talk about this AFTER Christmas?” Done deal! The magic lived on another year.

    Enjoy the holidays through the eyes of children! There is so much wonder we miss out on by being too grown up.

    And Mark, please tell the Goddess I say hello too.

  2. Actually, Mark, the phrase is the “willing,” not “willful,” suspension of disbelief. Hope you don’t mind my pointing it out. Very nice story.

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