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As I have for the past four years, I am taking a break at this point from weekly postings until the new year. I will resume publishing articles on January 3, 2022.

This has been a tough year. For kids, their teachers, school and district leaders. It’s been tough on families, too. But, I encourage us all to avoid the rabbit hole of pessimism. Instead, we must hang on to hope - where ever we can find it. With diligence and focus, things will improve. So in this season of lights, find reasons to be hopeful and things to believe in. It is in belief that change occurs.

Below is a letter from Santa to a ten year old boy who was having difficulty believing. I send it in the hope that it might remind us all of the dangers of cynicism and the power, and comfort, that can be found by simply believing.

Dear Ethan:

As you can imagine, things are pretty busy around here. All of the elves are scurrying around to make sure that we have everything we need. I am taking care of the reindeer so that they are healthy and strong. Our big night is coming up fast, and there is so much to take care of before then.

In spite of this hectic time, I wanted to take a minute to write to you. I know you are now ten years old, and I know that it’s around then that you and your pals will question whether there really is a Santa Claus. I want to assure you that I am real, even though the evidence can be a bit confusing. For instance . . . everywhere you look, someone is dressed up like Santa. Some of these fellows look pretty good, while others look kind of silly. They always make me chuckle! But, here’s the truth. Those guys aren’t really Santa Claus, any more then a boy dressed as Spider Man on Halloween is really Spidey. These fellows dress that way to remind you, and all children, of the mystery of this season and that the magic of Santa Claus is a part of it. With everything I have to take care of, it would be impossible for me to show up everywhere, all over the world, in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas Eve. I’m grateful to these folks who take the time to do what I am simply too busy to do and that they honor me by dressing in a way that will remind everyone who sees them of me, Santa Claus, and everything I stand for.

You are now old enough to understand who I really am. Everyone thinks of me as an old man who dresses in red velvet and fur, and who delivers gifts to children on Christmas Eve. I have been doing this for hundreds of years. Children across the world will have different traditions and will call me by different names - Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle or Father Christmas. Regardless of where they live, or the name they use, I represent a tradition that makes them feel good. That, Ethan, is what Santa Claus truly is. I am about giving and happiness. I am a bit of magic that lives in people’s hearts, reminding them of warmth and love.

Think of a candle flame, Ethan. There is something very wonderful and comforting about the warmth of a flickering candle and the beautiful light it gives off. But, when the flame is blown out the warmth of the candle goes away and the room becomes dark. The spirit of Santa Claus is like that candle flame. If people allow that flame to remain lit in their hearts, the wonder of Santa will always be a part of them and their holiday experience.

Now, you and your friends can argue all day long about how old I am, or whether reindeer can fly, or how I fit down chimneys, or how I get into people’s houses without waking their dogs or setting off their alarms. The truth is that no one can prove that these things aren’t true. And, whether they are true or not, doesn’t really matter. What matters is the magic of Santa Claus, the wonder of it all and how it makes people feel.

Those years you sat on my knee when I stopped by your grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve were real. Those conversations we had and those promises you made that you had been a “good boy” were real. Those feelings you felt, and what you believed to be true, are real. Santa is real if you believe he’s real. It’s that simple.

I need to get back to my chores. But, if your classmates try to convince you that there is no Santa, I hope you have an answer to their argument. I hope you can say, “Say what you want. I believe that the magic of Santa is real.”

Now, I want you and your family to have a very Merry Christmas. Don’t forget to leave me some cookies and a carrot, or two, for the reindeer.

Keep believing!

Your pal,


© Michael C. Johnson

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