Rant & Rave

By Kimberly Lum

Tuesday, December 14, 1999

Santa Claus bears
more than gifts

SANTA Claus was real. He ate the cookies and drank the milk, even wrote notes to me on the napkin. The notes where no vague, "Hey how ya doing? Merry Christmas, The Man with one red suit." They were personal, detailed and funny.

Now, being no sucker for fast ones, I did some investigating to make sure this was no imposter. I compared the wrapping paper of the presents from him to the ones that my parents gave me. They were different. I scrutinized the handwriting on the note, down to the way "K" was written, finding nothing implicating Mom or Dad.

I didn't always get the things that I had asked for (Cabbage Patch PJ's were no substitute for a room-cleaning robot) but I figured there were just certain items that were too extraordinary, even for Santa. So, with all that taken into account, I became a Believer, a Defender of the Jolly one, until the age of 14.

What's a weirdo?

This is the age my Mom began to worry. The stage of believing in Santa had not passed me when it should have (about 10 years prior). "Did I really do such an awesome job with this faking Santa bit?" she must have thought to herself. It wasn't necessarily the over-stimulated imagination that frightened her into strategically revealing the truth to me; it was the abnormality of it all.

It was disturbing, the image of a teen-ager still believing that there was some pudgy guy flying around the world with cool toys and free beverages.

For a while, after I realized the truth, I thought the same thing and was embarrassed by how gullible I had been. To be taken in with blue wrapping paper, slanted hand writing, and missing oatmeal cookies was humiliating, a stab at the pride I had in my intelligence. It took me some time to look forward fully to Christmas again, and eventually, I decided to repress the "Santa Years" for a while.

Magic Tricks

A while lasted five years, until recently, when I reopened that period in my life, coming to a different conclusion. Certainly, I had had a strong belief in Santa, to the point that I defended him in school.

But the belief that I carried with me wasn't really one that centered on Santa himself. The faith I carried was directed at the magic of it all, at something that sounded impossible because it was too good to be real. I had convictions, and still do, that although situations and ideas may sound mythical, who is to say that they don't exist in the minds of the people who live and think them.

Something relating to this concept is love, an adult complexity that involves a bunch of emotions and connections. A person cannot worship love in a physical form, clad in Adidas work out pants and a turtleneck. There are people that swear on its power yet can't describe where the power comes from. We can all agree that if you take a moment to think about all that love means to life, it seems huge and impossible.

Long live Santa

Fourteen was too old for fairy tales, too long to not understand what could and couldn't happen in reality. What age is too old to keep believing in things that exist because they are trusted? 73? 42? Nine?

How about never? Never is an appropriate time, for that is when all dreams end and all goals are abandoned. That is when we can live without believing in the improbable and thrive on only the touchable. That is the place where we say good bye to Santa Claus.

Kimberly Lum is junior at New York University
and '97 graduate of Castle High School

Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature
allowing those 12 to 22 to serve up fresh perspectives.
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