"'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house..." read Timmy's father. Timmy waited for the "all snug in their beds" line, and sighed contentedly as his father tucked the blankets tighter around him like he was supposed to. "Happy Christmas to all, and to all..." and here he paused to ruffle Timmy's hair, which was part of it as well, "...a good night."
Timmy's father clapped the book shut and stood to leave. "Dad?" said Timmy.
"Yes?" said Dad, returning to Timmy's bedside.
"Is Santa Claus real?"
"Of course he's real, Timmy. You know that."
"No, I mean... is He really real? Or is it just a story for little kids? You can tell me..."
"Timmy, I don't know where this is coming from. Your mother and I have always raised you to believe in Santa Claus."
"Well, it's just that, in school today, Abdul said that He isn't real, and that his mom and dad said it was all a lie."
"Yes, well I'm not surprised that Abdul's parents would tell him that, since Abdul's parents probably don't know any better. But this is what you can say to Abdul, the next time you see him: How do you explain all the books that have been written about Him, all the movies that have been made about Him, if He doesn't exist? Think about it; that many people all believing in the same thing can't be wrong."
"And it's not just that, Timmy. We have evidence of his existence. The story that I just read to you was written by Clement Clark Moore in 1822. And it is not just a story, Timmy, it's a firsthand account."
"But Dad, that was written so long ago. How do we know that it's real?"
"Well Timmy, let's look at the evidence. In his poem, Mr. Moore says, 'He had a broad face and a little round belly,' and, 'The beard on his chin was as white as the snow.' And how does he look in the movies you've seen about him? How does he look in commercials and on tv and at the mall?"
"The same," said Timmy.
"That's right," said Timmy's father.
"But Dad, if He's real, then why haven't I seen Him?" asked Timmy. "I mean the real Him, not His helper at the mall. His brother, right? You told me that that's His brother? He must have a lot of brothers."
"Er, yes," said Timmy's father, "but 'brother' might not mean exactly the same thing to us as it does to Him. And let us not forget that we are all brothers, who believe in Him. But to answer your question, Timmy, even though you haven't seen Him, it doesn't mean that He doesn't exist. What about the cookies you leave out for Him every Christmas Eve? What happens to those?"
"He eats them," said Timmy.
"And the reindeers' hooves on the roof? You heard those, right?" Timmy nodded. "And remember when I showed you the hoofprints on the driveway the next day?"
"I know, Dad, it's just that in school we learned about the different kinds of Santas people have in different countries. Are those Santas real, too?"
Timmy's father suddenly had a violent coughing fit, his face turning a vaguely purplish color as as he muttered something in between gasps that Timmy couldn't quite make out, though it sounded like, "Goddamn liberals."
"No, Timmy. You know there is only one true Santa and that is Santa Claus. All others are imposters and pagan idols."
"But how do you explain that so many of the stories of the other Santas are so similar to ours?"
"Clearly, they have taken the story of the one, true Santa and perverted it to their own twisted uses," answered Timmy's father.
"But Mrs. Needly says that some of these stories came before the story of our Santa..."
"Mrs. Needly!" sputtered Timmy's father, a purplish hue returning to his face. "Now, you know as well as I do that the true Santa wears a red suit and lives in the North Pole and drinks Coca-goddamn-Cola. Not like your cloak-wearing, shoe-filling imposters from Europe."
"Yes, but how do we know?"
Timmy's father sighed. "Look, son, we could sit here and I could give you reason after reason and fact after fact, but when it comes down to it we just have to have faith."
"What's faith, Dad?"
"Faith is believing, son. It's what allows us to believe in Santa, even when we can't see Him. So, when I say goodnight to you and leave your room every night, you know I'm still there, right? Even though you can't see me?"
"Well, that's faith."
"But, I don't understand. Before you were telling me about all the evidence for Santa Claus existing, and now you're telling me that evidence doesn't matter when you have faith. So which one is it?"
"Blast it, son, I... I thought you were with me on this, but now I can see that you're not really understanding. I think this all may be a little over your head. Maybe when you're older..."
"No, no, I... I think I get it."
"Explain it to me then, son."
"Ok, well, we know that Santa is real because of all the evidence. But even if there wasn't any evidence, it would be ok, because we know He is real because we have faith. And the reason we have faith is because we know He is real."
"Well, I stand corrected, son. That was exactly right."
"In class the other day Mrs. Needly taught us about something called 'circular logic'..."
"Now I don't want to hear another goddamned word about Mrs. Needly," barked Timmy's father. "That's just what we need is another goddamn teacher mucking things up with her own personal opinions. As if it isn't bad enough that they're trying to take Santa Claus out of the schools altogether. I really don't know what this world is coming to..."
"Mrs. N--I mean, well, shouldn't schools be a place for people with all kinds of different beliefs?"
"Well, let me ask you this, son. If you know you are right about something, if you know the truth about something, don't you tell people about it? Aren't schools a place for telling the truth? Let's say...you know the answer to a hard math problem. You figured it out, and you know you are right. But your friend thinks it's a different answer. Are you going to tell him, 'Well, maybe I'm right, and maybe you're right, too?' Or, 'Maybe we're both right?' No! There can only be one right answer, and that's what schools should teach. The truth."
"I guess that makes sense..."
"Of course it makes sense! The way this country is going, though, they're just as likely to teach you that the Easter Bunny brings your Christmas presents, that's how far backwards we've gone. And that is why we need to take this country back, son. We need to make sure we get true Santa believers voted into office, taking over every branch of government, so they can pass legislation supporting our Santa-based beliefs. It's the only way."
"But, shouldn't Santa be kept out of politics? I mean, he's good at Christmas, but can't we just figure things out without him the rest of the year?"
"Now, son. You know that bit about if you've been naughty or nice? That's not just at Christmastime; he is watching you all year long. So we need to govern ourselves, and our country, with the idea that he is watching us and judging us all year long; not just at Christmas."
"It still seems a little strange. What about people who don't believe in Santa? Why should they have to be governed by Santa-based politics?"
"Because, Timmy. We know we are right. And if the non-believers can't see that, even though they've been given plenty of opportunities, well, we will just have to force them to believe."
"Can you really do that?"
"Well, Timmy, all we can do is try. And we have to keep on trying, no matter what. It's what He wants."
"I think I get it now, Dad. Thanks."
"No problem, son. Now get some sleep."
"Ok, Dad. 'Night."
"Goodnight, son." Timmy's father stood and turned out the lights. "Go to sleep now."
But Timmy lay in bed unable to sleep, facing the darkness with wide open eyes. "Santa?" he whispered into the dark void of his room. "Are you there Santa? It's me, Timmy." He waited a long time, but no response came.