Berto and St. Nick (in his own words)

         I am 15 years old, and I believe in Santa Claus – although I haven’t always. When I was young, Santa was an intriguing topic for me. I believed in the jolly old man with an extreme case of dad-bod, dressed in a red suit because I trusted my parents. My parents told me he was real. Besides, what evidence did I have against them? Santa Claus showed up every Christmas. Every year, my siblings and I would awaken before the crack of dawn to wake up our parents, who we assumed would be well rested and willing to sacrifice an hour or two of sleep to see what Santa had brought us. The moment our parents stepped out of bed, we were in the mentality of an Olympic sprinter. Our finish line was just down the hall and to the left, where our presents sat under our 7-foot-tall artificial tree, with a blanket wrapped neatly around the base. Each year we experienced the rush of Christmas morning. But then I grew up.
            As I became older, I pushed the thought of the magical man to the back of my more logical brain, simply accepting but not quite believing. At that point, I found more magic in the presents than the man who delivered them. Around the age of 10, I began thinking about Santa again. My parents explained where St Nick’s magic came from by telling us that Jesus gave the jolly old man the power and ability to deliver presents because what he was doing gave so much joy to children all around the world. As a devout 10-year-old Catholic, it made some sense. After all, if Jesus had the power to do anything, why not? In my heart though, I knew. It was illogical. Santa Claus wasn’t real; it was my parents. After all, why else would I be unable to request one million dollars from him?
            I finally went to my parents, taking them aside as to not ruin it for my siblings by declaring I did not believe.
            “I have a question,” I told them.
            “What is it?”
            “Is Santa real?”
            My parents paused.
            “Do you really want to know?” My mom asked, in that moment unintentionally answering my question.
“Yes,” I said. “Well, I already know, but…”
“No, he’s not,” my parents responded kindly.
My parents continued to explain to me that now that I knew, I was “part of the magic.” Whatever I did, I couldn’t expose what I knew to my siblings. Each year I had to act as if I was just as steadfast about believing in Santa Claus as I had been five years ago. I assured them it wouldn’t be an issue. However, I didn’t really feel so magical.
            The first Christmas that I was in-the-know, setting out the festive snowflake shaped sugar cookies and milk in a bowl of ice (to insure it was cold), I felt a little empty. I didn’t understand why, but it wasn’t the same. The joy of Christmas had mostly filled me up, and the wintertime spent in our humble house in Chandler, Arizona, reflecting on the birth of Jesus was still thoroughly enjoyed. The topic of Santa just didn’t feel the same, however. Christmas Day, the presents came, taken out of their hiding spot in my parent’s closet. In my mind, I was torn. I saw how happy my siblings were, as was I, and I knew what my parents were doing was special. But it didn’t feel magical.
            Over the next year I matured. I became taller, more intelligent, and was able to wrap my head around more things. And I think that made all the difference that year.
            That year at Christmas I felt especially good about everything. As my family and I watched the Nativity Story, I felt the spirit of Christmas fill up inside me. I felt happy for my siblings, and my mind was free of any “stress” I had felt the year before. I went to bed excited to wake up the next morning and find presents under the tree. Sure enough, my siblings woke up before the sun on a once again frigid yet snowless Arizona Christmas morning. I felt a crazy sense of anticipation that felt almost nostalgic, as if it was from three years ago. I felt good, but the magic of Santa still wasn’t quite there. For the sake of my siblings I rushed out through the hall to the tree behind them, taking time to turn on the light so we could see our presents. But I still didn’t see the magic completely.
While we were opening the presents I looked at my siblings, pure joy lighting up their eyes in a Christmas fire as they tore through presents and stockings, and at my parents, looking tired yet completely overjoyed at the experience and feeling they were giving their kids by being Santa Claus. In those two seconds, something clicked. I recognized the magic. The magic was real. Santa was real. I was experiencing it. It wasn’t about the magic sleigh, or the immortality of Santa Claus – it was about the spirit of Christmas, the feeling of giving and receiving gifts, and the elation of it all. My parents were not obligated to be Santa, but out of a desire for us to experience that magic, they were. But it was not only them, it was me too. I was Santa. I was keeping the magic alive by convincing my siblings of the existence of the mythical, yet very real man.
            What I realized that year was very important, and made me truly believe Santa Claus was real. Believing in him will make all the difference. I will be able to keep that spirit alive for my children and all the little kids in a world where Santa’s magic is dampening, being smothered by newer generations who believe children need facts, not hope. Indeed, what would Christmas be for kids without the jolly old man?

Other posts about the Jolly Old Man and his magic:
Berto and St. Nick
Santa and St. Nick


  1. Brilliant, insightful, and astute. Wonderful. Is there no end to the talented writers in the Ibarra family?


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