A Little Tale of Faith
This is not actually an account of my personal de-conversion, but rather, a short story I wrote about a young boy who believes in Santa Claus and loses his 'faith.' I am aware of the arguments that Christians could throw at it; regardless, here it is for your reading enjoyment.
A Little Tale of Faith
(Or a Rather Large Defense of Atheism)
by Joe Hargrave
It was three days before Christmas. Little Jimmy had been hoping all year long that he would receive the bicycle he had hoped for. After all, he had been a good boy, and was quite sure that Santa Claus had put him on the 'nice' list as opposed to the 'naughty' list. He didn't steal from the cookie jar. He didn't hit his sister, or call her too many names. He cleaned all the food off of his plate, every meal. He even did well in school, because Mommy had told him that Santa would only bring him what he wanted if he did well in school too. So Jimmy studied every night and got A's and B's. He was a good boy, and he was going to get a nice bike from Santa Claus. Why, Santa's elves were probably working on it right now in the North Pole ...
But that wasn't enough for Jimmy. He wanted to be sure that Santa knew he wanted a bike. So he got a pen and a piece of paper and wrote a letter to Santa, explained what he wanted, (the bike, among a few other toys) and mailed the letter to the North Pole.
The next day, Jimmy met his friend John in the park, and asked John what Santa was bringing him. John cruelly replied that there was no such thing as Santa Claus, and that Jimmy was a little baby for believing in Santa. Jimmy tried vigorously to defend the existence of Santa. After all, he had proof. His parents told him that every midnight on Christmas morning, they could hear a thud on the roof, footsteps, the jingling of bells, and a faint 'ho-ho-ho' coming from the living room. Of course, he never heard it, because if he stayed up too late that would be naughty and he wouldn't get his presents. When John asked if Jimmy had actually seen Santa, Jimmy replied that if he left his room, then he wouldn't get the presents, because Santa doesn't want to be seen. Only a naughty child would get up and try and sneak a peak, and naughty children did not receive presents. John asked Jimmy if there was anything else. Jimmy responded by telling John that before he went to bed Christmas Eve, he always left a plate of cookies and a huge glass of milk for Santa, and every Christmas morning, the cookies were eaten and the milk drank. John told Jimmy that his parents probably ate them, but that idea was insane to Jimmy; why would people he loved and trusted lie to him? Finally, John asked how a fat guy like Santa could possibly fit down a chimney. Jimmy could only respond by saying that a man who has flying reindeer, thousands of presents in one sack, and hundreds of elves working for him could easily find a way get around an obstacle so insignificant as chimney. He's Santa Claus, geez!
But it didn't end there. A seed of doubt had been planted in Jimmy's mind, and he was beginning to wonder if Santa really didn't exist. He voiced his concerns to his parents, and they became worried. Worried that Jimmy had been such a good boy all year, and now, might become reckless like that John character. After all, if the promise of Santa bringing him presents was what was making him behave like a good boy, then how would he act without that promise? There was no real way of knowing, so they opted to re-assure Jimmy of Santa by taking him to the mall and seeing Santa there.
When Jimmy was sitting on the mall Santa's lap, Santa asked him if he had been naughty or nice. Jimmy said that he always tried to be nice, and that he was a good boy. He then told Santa what kind of bike he wanted, what kind of action-figures and video games, and so on. Then he asked Santa why he was at the mall when he should be getting ready to deliver presents. The mall Santa replied that he was merely there in Santa's place, that he was his helper, sort of like an elf, and it was his job to act as Santa when Santa could not be there ... and besides, little boys and girls aren't supposed to see Santa, or else they won't get their presents. He gave Jimmy a candy cane and wished him a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Jimmy's assurance was re-affirmed, for the moment.
So Jimmy was very excited as he went to bed on Christmas Eve. He had prepared the milk and cookies and was getting ready to go to bed. As he fell into a deep sleep, he began to dream about the presents he would be receiving the next morning ... everything he'd asked for would be his.
On Christmas morning, Jimmy woke up and raced out of bed into the living room, glancing only briefly to the table where he'd left the milk and cookies to see that they were consumed, and sure enough, they were gone. And when he reached the tree, there he saw it; a bike with a bow wrapped around it and a tag that read 'Merry Christmas, from Santa'. But upon examining the bike, he realized that it was not at all even close to the kind of bike he wanted. He set aside his disappointment long enough to rip open the packages under the tree, some from his parents, his sister, aunts and uncles, cousins, and a few more from Santa. Upon opening the presents from Santa, he discovered that the things he wrote in his list and the things he told the mall Santa he had wanted weren't there. And he could not understand why ... he reasoned that he must have been a naughty boy, otherwise, why wouldn't Santa give him what he asked for? He kept his concerns to himself, and resolved to bitterly enjoy what he'd been given ... perhaps he would strive to be even more of a good boy so that next Christmas Santa would give him what he wanted.
After Christmas dinner, John stopped by Jimmy's house to give him a present. They had a chance to talk for a few minutes. John asked Jimmy if he got what he had asked for. Jimmy told John about his misfortune, and then asked John if he got what he had wanted. John said that he had gotten almost everything he asked for. This Jimmy could not understand. John wasn't really a bad kid, but Jimmy was sure that he had been better behaved than John. He asked John why he got what he asked for. John said that ever since the stopped buying into that Santa stuff, he'd just tell his parents directly what he wanted, and most of the time, there were no mistakes.
Now Jimmy didn't know what to think. So he confronted his parents and asked them if the really was a Santa Claus, or if it was all a lie. His parents, realizing that they could hide the truth no longer, finally told Jimmy that there was no Santa, and that it was just make believe. It was something they told him because everyone told their kids about Santa, it was fun, it was a way of making Christmas more exciting for little boys and girls. Jimmy was in shock. He couldn't believe that his parents lied to him. But after thinking about it, he realized how silly it was. Flying reindeer? Little elves? A bottomless sack of presents? Someone that fat sliding down his chimney? Jimmy looked at the situation; he sent a letter to this 'Santa', talked to one of his 'representatives', and did he receive what he'd asked for? No. He was a good boy all year, did well in school, and did he get what he wanted? No. As far as Jimmy was concerned, he didn't buy into all that Santa stuff anymore. He realized that John was right all along, and from that day on, Jimmy saw Santa as nothing but a make believe character; someone for the little kids who didn't know any better.
(On a side note, one element of the whole Santa issue I'd like to add is that when I was a kid, I also asked the question: 'What does Santa do when there's no chimney to go down?' My parents told me that he had a magic key that opened any door. Then I asked: Then why does he use the chimney when he could just use the key? They were dumbfounded.)
I asked that same question -- and got the same answer!!
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