The Opinion "I have decided to no longer believe in Santa Claus"
died for an entire holiday season when I was seven years old. The Opinion, having been arrived at through careful and thoughtful rumination (combined with a creeping suspicion that the entire story of Kris Kringle was a cynically orchestrated sham) lay in ruins on the morning of December 25th, 1965, due entirely to two distinct boot prints that lay in the ashes of the fireplace of my family home. The sight of those boot prints, which could only belong to St. Nick, was a visual and visceral shock to my youthful sensibilities, a stark refutation of my nascent reasoning faculties, and it both excited and deflated my delicate intellect.
On Christmas morning that year, in addition to the boot prints, a brand new banana-seated gold-flecked-faux-fiber-glass Stingray Schwinn bicycle with my name on it awaited my arrival. It stood shining like a child's supernova just off to one side of the family Xmas tree: it sealed the deal of my belief as it was irrefutable proof of the existence of a magical gift giver who flew through the night to deliver toys and wonder to children all over the world, or so I was convinced that wonderful day. With a wide, slick rear tire and handle bars that drooped down like Dumbo's ears, I had gained the next level in life, the place where freedom and and speed combined to leave skid marks all over the neighborhood sidewalks. I jumped curbs, vanished into the farmlands, defied gravity for a time before I proved that gravity was actually quite patient and could never be denied for long. Crash! I had that year the best bike that I could ever possibly have, and Santa had brought it to me, even though I had gone past doubting his existence and had planted a flag in the Land of Outright Denial. No matter: I rode off that morning like some newly born idea, ready to explode in all directions at once, newly planted flag be damned.
The Opinion came back the next year, but it was too late. I had been disabused of my reason, and punked before it was even called that. Many years later I struggled through another Xmas Eve, this time assembling a bicycle for my
son. Not long after that, I went with him to the local school, and ran alongside him and steadied his ride on the black top until he sailed away on his first solo launch. I was now leaving black boot prints in the ashes of another memory. I soared, my eyes tearing, my love indescribable, my joy unbounded. I flew with him, right up to the moment he started screaming "Help! I don't know how to stop!"
Today, the Opinion is at peace in a small, unremarkable urn I keep somewhere next to the stardust that I know falls in the lands between my mind and my heart. It is from this place that I wish you all the Merriest of Yules, and fresh boot prints to guide you there, should you require proof.
The Opinuary Column appears on Fridays at Jesus' General.