The question, Is Santa Real, rings through the holiday season with the Christmas carols, and just like the icicles hanging from our rooftops, sends a shiver down our spines. We can stall, ignore or sugarcoat our answers; however these futile attempts to side-step the issue rarely satisfy the insatiable curiosity of a child. A better approach might be to just give our children the facts; cold, hard evidence grounded in science. Because we all know the real reason we must use those tiny screwdrivers to change the batteries in the toys Santa brings: little elves made the tiny screws.
Fortunately, we have much evidence to use in building our scientific case for the existence of Santa Clause. We can easily say, “Just because you’ve never seen a reindeer fly doesn’t necessarily mean that reindeer don’t fly.” However, your response will be stronger if you base your answer on this one true scientific fact: Scientists say there are millions of species yet to be discovered, (According to my son’s Middle School, 7th grade science class). Between 1978 and 1988, five new species of birds, 226 species of mammal, and 231 species of fish were identified. (The Environment: Principles and Applications, By Chris C. Park, Routledge, 2001.) One day, the list of new species discovered just might include flying reindeer.
Crucially important is reassuring your child that Santa will be able to find your house on Christmas Eve. We all know that Santa Clause, being male, won’t stop to ask for directions. Fortunately Mrs. Claus has already taken care of pre-programming the sleigh’s on-board GPS system so that the sleigh will automatically follow the most efficient route that goes directly to your house.
When your child wants to know, “how far Santa will travel on Christmas Eve,” view this as an opportunity to strengthen your child’s math and geographic knowledge. Start with these basic facts: The earth’s circumference at the equator is 24,901.55 miles. Still, Santa does not have to travel that far, as most of the Earth’s surface is covered with water. This leaves 45 million square miles of exposed land for Santa to travel across the six habitable continents.
This is a good time to remind your child that Santa has the advantage of spending thousands of years at the North Pole perfecting his toy delivery system. For example, he has created satellites that collect electromagnetic waves from the thoughts and deepest wishes of children. Letters are not necessary: Santa can read your thoughts, although it is still a good practice to use the written word to collect your thoughts. Letters are highly esteemed to the man in red. One cautionary note: the satellites also allow Santa to know exactly who has been naughty or nice.
We can always use a bit of logic, too, when trying to resolve our child’s question about the existence of Santa Clause: “Really,son, do you think it’s possible for us to buy and wrap all of those presents on Christmas Eve, (when the stores are closed), so they appear on Christmas morning? Of course not. Parents need help; and that’s why we have Santa Clause.”
Help does seem to magically come from somewhere outside of ourselves. Once the kids are asleep, you begin your annual ritual of pulling out the presents from their hiding spots, many gifts still in need of wrapping, and worse, some still requiring assembly. Nothing short of some kind of miracle allowed that massive amount of “elf”work to be completed, well before dawn, ensuring that the tiny faces do light up like a Christmas tree on Christmas morning. I think it’s safe to say, that there is a bit of Santa working quietly away in each of us.