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Ever since my son was three, my wife and I would always tell him that Santa Claus would send gifts every year on Christmas Day, because he behaved very well throughout the year. Sometimes his gift would appear on his bed, sometimes under the Christmas tree in the living room, and sometimes on the kitchen table. He was very excited every time he found the gift, and of course had always believed that Santa Claus exists.

This year my son is seven years old, and a few days ago he asked me skeptically, “Daddy, is Santa Claus real? Is he just a fictional fairy tale character?” Although I knew that that day would inevitably come, I was still quite shocked when he brought up the question, and thought, “Did childhood really pass that quickly?”

So I began to talk to him.

I said, “Of course there is a Santa Claus. Didn’t he give you a gift a few years ago?”

“Then is he a man or a god?” my son asked.

“Of course he is human. Remember that the Finnish book we read said that Santa Claus lived in Finland’s Santa Claus Village? And the United States Air Force would open the radar to track him every Christmas,” I replied.

“How can he be human, then, if he can fly?” my son questioned.

“He cannot fly, but he has a reindeer sleigh that can.”

“Why can the reindeer fly?”

I told him, “Ah, they are very special reindeer. Gods gave them to him.”

“How can Santa Claus give us presents when we don’t have a chimney?” my son continued to ask.

“Although we don’t have a chimney, I intentionally leave a gap in the window at night so he can get in,” I said.

“But why did I not see him come in?”

 “Oh, that’s because he is very busy,” I said. “He has to send gifts to all the children around the world, so he can’t stay long. After he sets down your presents, he has to go to the next child’s house so you don’t have a chance to see him.”

After this series of questioning and answering, my son was finally satisfied. He asked, “Will I receive a gift from Santa Claus this year?” I smiled and said, “You have done a great job this year, both at school and at home. If you believe in Santa Claus, he will certainly send you presents.”

Of course, for a seven-year-old child, things cannot have such a simple end. Once the words were out of my mouth, my son immediately spoke up, “How does Santa Claus know that I believe in him? He is a human, not a god, so how could he know what I’m thinking?” To this point, if I did not give him a good explanation, I couldn’t continue talking about this. 

I said, “You are right, Santa Claus is a man, so he does not know what you are thinking. But God, however, will tell him whether or not children believe in him, since it is God who gave him the flying reindeer sleigh. Only the children who believe in him can get a gift.”

My son laughed and said, “Does Santa Claus know that the thing I really want for Christmas is a set of Legos?” I had to say, “He probably will know, but you can’t want a gift that’s too expensive!”.  “That’s because Santa Claus is your dad”, I thought to myself.

In fact, I didn’t want to lie to my son, or refuse to accept the fact that he is growing up. I wanted him to believe in the concept of God and to know that God measures all the good and evil in the world. And, when he is behaving well, there would be a Santa Claus to encourage him, so that he will continue being a good boy. 

Perhaps one day he will know that this is a fairy tale, but I hope that when that day comes, he will still continue to believe in the existence of God and maintain a good conduct. Finally,when the day comes, he’ll become his children’s Santa Claus.

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Translation:  Ireen Chau

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