MRS. WORTHINGTON’S LIFE had gone along like a train on
a track that had few bends. But why was she crying over a silly movie?
Why did she care if George Bailey was happy? Was she crying
because her husband had left and gone over to watch that maniac
Kronenfeldt play Santa Claus? Why would anyone want to watch
a grown man endanger himself and others by landing a sled with
reindeer on his roof?
Mrs. Worthington stared at the fake Christmas tree. Walter always
liked a fresh tree, but the mess and the needles were simply too
much. Ten years ago she had bought the Christmas tree that could be
set up in ten minutes. No lugging the tree in the house. Just take the
tree out of the box and set it up. Mrs. Worthington felt that she had
scored one against Christmas. She resented the silliness the holiday
generated in her classroom and in her home. The only real way to
deflate the myth of Christmas was to deflate the biggest myth and
that was Santa Claus!
Mrs. Worthington stared at her father on the mantel with his
fierce dark German eyes. He had taken Santa away from her early,
and she resented the other children who believed in the ridiculous
fat man with a beard. She had told them it was their parents. She had
told them Christmas was ridiculous and a waste of a good working
man’s day. That was what her father had said. And she found herself
an outsider among her friends. The teacher admonished her to keep
her beliefs about Santa Claus to herself. She was a spritely thing who
had them sing Christmas carols all month long while she played the
Mrs. Worthington picked up the picture and stared at the man
on the front steps of their home. She was there between his legs, a
young girl of ten. Her father taught her how to milk a cow and stack
hay bales and even to slaughter a chicken. He treated her like a son,
and she took his revelation about Christmas as evidence that he
viewed her as an equal. But she envied the excitement of the other
children when talking about the arrival of Santa Claus. Who wouldn’t
be excited about a man who comes down your chimney and leaves
gifts around your Christmas tree and then vanishes? Why, he was a
bit like God when you thought about it.
God promised human salvation. He promised the greatest gift of
all—the gift of life. So the advertisers who had created Santa Claus
had tapped into a very powerful emotion—the human yearning for
someone to come in and save us all. And for children, Jesus and
Santa Claus were all mixed up together. Mrs. Worthington had read
a recent poll that Santa Claus was what children associated with
Christmas, not the baby Jesus. That alone was justification for her
war against Santa.
And her war consisted of one simple human emotion—doubt.
She put doubt into the children’s head over the existence of Santa
Claus. Some might think it was an evil thing to do, but they didn’t
have to deal with twenty-five screaming children for the twenty days
before Christmas. The holiday party was her concession to the children
and their parents. But she would not lie to the children. She
would not perpetuate this myth of gifts for nothing. Children should
understand the relationship between work and getting things they
wanted. Santa Claus told them that if they were good children, then
they were rewarded. That was ridiculous. Children should be good
and not expect a reward.
Mrs. Worthington set the picture of her father down and paused.
And now this moron was going to potentially undo all her work. He
would give his daughter an opportunity to prove to the children that
there was a Santa Claus. She did not want a celebrity in her classroom
for the remaining six months of school. She did not want her class to
be home to the girl famous for proving the existence of Santa Claus.
And now Kronenfeldt had lured her husband away on Christmas
Eve. That made Mrs. Worthington so mad she picked up the phone
and dialed. She would make Kronenfeldt pay.
“Yes, I would like to report a man with reindeer on his roof …
Yes … he is creating quite a disturbance, and I cannot get any sleep,”
she said to the policeman, meeting her father’s disapproving glare.