With NaNoWriMo done this year, I’m starting a new series of posts. In honour of the Christmas season, I’ll be posting a short fiction piece every day for the next 24 days. Consider it an advent calendar of narrative goodness 🙂
Some will be shorter than others. I’ll be aiming to incorporate a number of genres too from historical drama to fantasy.
I’d also like to invite you to prompt me if you so wish, be it with Christmas-themed words or pictures. Or they can be vague and I’ll interpret them in a festive light. I leave it open to you. If I get an overflowing abundance, I’ll see how many I can do until Christmas and get to the rest after.
Now, onto today’s short fiction. I apologize for sending this one out late. I’m hoping to get most of them out earlier as a way to start off the day. Today’s piece is just a little thing that came to mind yesterday, in part inspiring this new series of posts. I hope you enjoy! Without further ado…
The Magic of Santa Claus
“Mama, does Santa Claus exist?”
Ella cleaved through the tomato, narrowly missing her finger. Startled, she stared down at Shelby, her nine-year old daughter.
“Who told you that?”
Was it really possible that her little girl was already beginning to doubt the story of a jolly old man delivering presents? That she was already beginning to question the presence of magic in the world? Ella tried to remember how old she had been when she had stopped believing. Surely she had been in high school, no younger than twelve, maybe even thirteen.
“Nancy did,” Shelby replied. Her golden brown eyes were full of suspicion and desperation.
Of course it had been Nancy. Ella had known she would be trouble from the first moment she saw her: superficial, stuck-up girl just like her mother. A wave of disgust rolled through her: how dare that little—she stopped herself from thinking the word—plant that contaminating seed of disbelief in her daughter’s mind.
Riled, she could not conceive of the proper words to satisfy Shelby’s question. Should she deny Nancy’s statement as a mere ruse, a ploy to paint Shelby as the gullible fool? Or should she respond with the blunt truth and forever shatter the innocence that she loved in her daughter? The fable would have to be revealed eventually; why shouldn’t that time be now?
Maybe Shelby was old enough to realize that some magic was just pretend. Kids these days were much more adept at uncovering the truth than she had been at Shelby’s age, what with the rise of technology, that double-edged sword. Their minds were warped towards logic and reason, no longer invested in fantasy and whim. What would be the harm in dispelling this one falsehood?
Shelby’s eyes were wide with curiosity; in them, Ella could almost see the churning wheels of wonder, her mind trying to reason through why her mother was taking such a long time to answer, that seed of doubt burrowing deeper into her consciousness.
Taking Shelby the hand, she led her to the Den and sat her down on the plush couch. Their evergreen tree towered in the corner, adorned in red and gold bows. They had decorated it only two days earlier. Shelby had chatted away then of all the gifts she had written to Santa for. How could so much have changed in such a short period of time?
This, Ella was certain, would be one of those defining moment in her role as mother. She tried to remember how her own mother had told her the truth of Santa. It had been the same way she had explained how it was becoming a woman, in vague and loose terms that instructed without heart. “He’s not real. He’s just a story.” Shelby deserved better than that.
“What exactly did Nancy tell you?”
Shelby scrunched up her face, intent on being as accurate as possible. “She said that her mother told her that Santa didn’t exist, that parents put those presents under the tree and just say that Santa put them there, that they eat his cookies and drink his milk. They even eat the carrots and celery sticks that we leave for the reindeer. But Mama, surely Santa does exist? All those letters to the North Pole, and all those amazing presents, that must have been him.”
The plea in Shelby’s voice shot through Ella’s heart. She resisted the urge to cry, but she could not prevent the tiny crack that ran through her heart. She could never have predicted the sorrow that would accompany the tarnishing of that beautiful entity that was a child’s innocence.
It was then that she found the words she needed to say.
“Nancy has a bit of point,” she said. “Santa Claus isn’t a real person, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.”
“So he’s like a fairy. Or an alien!”
Ella had to laugh. It was a wonder that, even in the face of reality, Shelby still clung to her imagination, to whimsy, to magic.
“Not quite like that,” Ella corrected her. “He isn’t a fairy. He isn’t an alien. He’s…an idea.”
A quizzical frown wrinkled Shelby’s forehead. “An idea?”
“Santa Claus exists in each one of us, you see, as long you choose to embrace the idea of him. As long as you choose to believe in him, in what he represents.” Ella was careful in her choice of words. Shelby wasn’t ready for any great philosophical lesson yet. But she was a smart kid, a voracious reader, an avid student. She would understand.
“So, he’s not a plump man in a red suit. There aren’t elves. There isn’t a North Pole?”
“Not as far as I know.”
“Then why do people say that there is a Santa if there isn’t one?” Shelby was moving from disbelief to anger. She had never appreciated being lied to.
“Because it’s important to believe in magic when you’re young. And that isn’t to say that magic doesn’t exist around us. But, when you get older, you learn something even more important.”
“That magic exists within each of us.”
“I have magic.” Shelby examined her fingers in wonder. Ella could imagine her thoughts, running through images of a wand-wielding Hermione Granger conjuring silvery otters, opening locked doors, repairing broken glasses and expelling evildoers.
“A very special kind of magic. It doesn’t allow you to fly, or to move things without touching them. It is a good magic that brings joy to people.”
Shelby was rapt, each word absorbed with excitement. A smile blossomed on her face to replace the frown that had been so firmly set upon it before.
“Santa gives without needing to receive, the very spirit of unconditional love. That’s what he is and always will be: love, dressed up in red and white. All we have to do is share that love with others and we become Santa for them. The happiness that brings…that is true magic. Do you understand?”
Shelby nodded. “Then you will always be my Santa.”
Ella wrapped Shelby in a tight embrace and kissed the top of her head, grateful for having been blessed with the greatest gift of all.
May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,
© 2015. Faith Rivens.