Rob did everything his parents requested. He showered, put on his favorite pajamas and said his prayers. It was Christmas Eve and he wasn’t taking any chances with Santa’s twice-checked list.
It was tough falling asleep, however, so Rob thought about his year in review instead. Rob tried to be a good boy, honestly he did, but on some days trouble found him. Rob half-expected a bag filled with coal under the tree.
Rob was thinking about praying again when flickering flashes of lights cast shadows across the wall. He got up out of bed and tipped quietly across the room to his window. Rob could see men in his friend Roy’s backyard. They were holding flashlights and putting together a swing set. Why were they doing that, he wondered. That was Santa’s job!
Rob did not go to sleep that night. Instead, he watched the men with the flashlights and waited for Santa. Santa did not come. Never Never Land, Peter Rabbit and the North Pole all died that night for Rob. The door of doubt was opened, and he couldn’t close it.
On Christmas morning Roy came running over to Rob’s house.
“Rob, come and see the swing set Santa brought me!”
Rob told Roy about Santa. The two boys almost fought. Roy couldn’t believe Rob could be so foolish. The evidence was under the trees and in Roy’s own backyard!
Rob did not stop there. Instead of playing with his toys like he had in past Christmases, Rob told every kid he met that Santa wasn’t real. He told Marcus, Henry, Tim, Rico and Tyler. The word spread like wildfire. Someone in that group told Nilah, who took it pretty hard. She couldn’t fight like Roy, so she cried and ran to her room.
As she watched television with her family that evening, Nilah’s father suddenly turned the television off.
“Why did you do that?” she asked.
Her father gave some excuse but Nilah wasn’t buying it. In truth, the situation on the television wasn’t suitable for children, but her dad not want to go into detail about the birds and bees.
Nilah started to cry. Her father wasn’t expecting that response.
“Honey what is wrong?”
“Everyone lies to me; no one tells me the truth,” Nilah managed to say through her sobs.
“Where is this coming from? What do you wanna know the truth about?” her father asked.
“Is Santa real? Some boys in the neighborhood said he isn’t.”
Everyone in the room stopped. Even Nilah’s older brother paused to hear the answer. Nilah’s dad wasn’t certain himself.
“No, Nilah. Santa isn’t real,” he finally replied. “Actually mom and dad are really Santa. We are the ones who watch you when you are asleep. We take notes when you are good or bad. God blessed us with jobs, and we take a portion of our money and buy gifts for you and your brother.”
Remote in hand, Nilah’s dad looked at the tear-stained face of his daughter, waited for her reaction. He had not expected to cover this material so soon.
Nilah started to cry all over again. It was one of those “A Few Good Men” moments – she couldn’t handle the truth.
“Why are you crying now?” he asked.
“Because Santa is real! You lied to me! Everyone always lies to me.”
Will Rogers said it best – “It’s not what you don’t know that hurts you, it’s what you know that just ain’t so.”