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The older kids said there is no Santa Claus, that he is only make believe. We younger kids weren’t so sure. Though confused, we wanted to believe. It was about 1940.            

Finally I decided I would try to get this question settled once and for all. After planning a scientific experiment, I asked my family if they would give me a little help. They agreed that on Christmas Eve, as we were preparing to go to church, we would all leave the house together. Dad would have the car running and ready outside the garage. As t he others were getting into the car, I would make one last dash into the house to check under the Christmas tree —just to make sure no one had put any presents there at the last moment. Then I would come back to the car and away we would go.

When we returned from church, I would be the first to enter the house and check under the tree. If there were no toys, then alas, there was no Santa. But, if there were presents, then indeed there was a Santa Claus.

Everything seemed to go as planned. When we arrived home after the Christmas service, I ran into the house at full speed. When I looked under the tree, I was amazed and very happy to see a bunch of shiny new toys. Declaring my experiment to be a success, I proclaimed that now I knew for sure that Santa Claus is real and does exist. The older kids were simply wrong.

Because my experiment was so conclusive, I continued to believe in Santa for another whole year. Eventually, though, my doubts began to resurface again. One day my older brother had mercy on me. He took me aside and explained the deceitful role Dad had played in my experiment. As I entered the house for my final inspection, Dad sneaked through the garage into the kitchen, and upstairs. As I was leaving the house, he raced downstairs, put a bunch of toys under the tree, and calmly came walking out of the garage. We both got into the car at the same moment, and I was none the wiser.

When I learned the truth I was at first flabbergasted and upset. But soon I decided it was okay. I continued to believe in the spirit of Santa Claus, and still do today. That spirit is one of giving, sharing and loving. As long as those things are alive and well among us, then the spirit of Santa Claus lives too!

Robert Seltz

Robert Seltz has served as a Lutheran pastor for 53 years. 

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