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Milk (and Cookies) of Human Kindness: How to Believe in Santa as an Adult 

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CUA chapter.

I will never, ever forget when my mom told me that Santa Claus wasn’t real. I was a fifth grader, who despite the doubting voices of my classmates (and my own gut feeling), refused to accept the fact that the presents under my tree came from anyone but the man himself. One night in December, when believing had been especially difficult, I mustered all the courage I could and, as dead serious as the Ghost of Christmas Past, asked my mom the question. She took a moment to respond and I could tell she was weighing the options in her mind: is she ready to know or should I let her have this for a little longer? Eventually, sitting down on the edge of my bunk bed, she told me the last thing in the world I wanted to hear: “Well honey, Santa himself isn’t exactly real.” Looking back, I find humor in the way I had immediately burst into tears after her admission, but in the moment, all I felt was a complete loss of everything childhood stood for: belief in something magical and bigger than yourself, something that required a simple faith in the generous and loving spirit of humanity. 

However, while I was absolutely devastated by the news, as any self respecting fifth grader would be, what my mom said next has stuck with me till this day: “But the Spirit of Christmas will always be real if you believe in it!” Naturally, younger me saw this as a lame cop out to soften the incredible blow that had just been inflicted, but as I’ve grown up, I think I really do see what my mom was getting at. It began when she asked me to help her hide our Elf on the Shelf for my younger brother. These special doll elves who “reported” back to Santa were a staple tool of our mother’s, and hallmark of Christmas, to get us to behave. While “touching” Snowflake and Tingly Tim, our sibling elves, hurt more than killing a family member because of course this confirmed that they did not, in fact, fly back to the North Pole every night to report our behavior to Santa, there was a beautiful element of excitement that came with keeping the magic alive for my brother. 

Naturally, his own belief didn’t last very much longer past that next Christmas, which left me in a stalemate with the joy I found in this season. How was I supposed to continue to find excitement in this holiday when the aspect that had made it special for so long was gone? I came to find out that my mom couldn’t have been more right; while Santa himself didn’t exist, the magical Spirit of Christmas never disappeared, as long as you were willing to believe in it. 

I believed in the Spirit of Christmas when I saw my dad’s surprise and overjoyed reaction to the present I had mulled over for so long. I believed in the Spirit of Christmas when I read my grandmother’s handwriting on our recipe card as I made our family’s Christmas Wine Cake to deliver to our neighbors. I believed in the Spirit of Christmas when I saw a couple buy a mother’s cart of Christmas gifts at Target, just because. I believed in the Spirit of Christmas when I saw my brother’s face light up the first time he saw snow. I believed in the Spirit of Christmas when the Macy’s workers, despite the craziness of the season, took the time to ask us about the significance of the perfume my dad was getting my mom and, with a bright smile, wished us “Happy Holidays!” 

As you might have been able to tell through the examples of moments where I really felt that magic of Christmas return to me, it was through these small acts of love and kindness, which seem to come so naturally to us around this time of year, that I was able to tap back into the belief in an agent greater than myself. While I might not believe in Santa anymore, during Christmastime, my belief in the goodness of humanity always seems to be restored. By being extra aware of those little acts of kindness or even creating our own, that Christmas Spirit will become more and more alive in our lives. So although, as adults, we can’t exactly justify putting out milk and cookies for Santa to eat anymore, putting small acts of kindness and love out into the world will bring us the greatest three gifts we could have ever put on our Christmas list: a restoration of our belief in the purity of human nature, a sense of belonging to a cause bigger than ourselves, and a confirmation that maybe, just maybe, our world isn’t so bad after all.

Hey! I'm Sharon Sabini, but I also go by Cherie. I'm a sophmore English major with a minor in Italian Studies and Peace and Justice Studies at the Catholic University of America. I adore reading, listening to music, doing nothing with my friends, and going for walks outside:) I am extremely passionate about self-expression and discovery through writing!