18 December 2013

You are Santa Claus, didn't you know?

Siblings fight, especially when they are young with an age difference of a little over two years.  We won’t go into the psychology of all that.  My two daughters, if pushed and under certain circumstances, will admit they love each other.  Most times however they are not pushed and the right circumstances are rare or rather go unnoticed.  Two years ago the older of the two was already too old not to be skeptical about Santa Claus. The younger, now 10, still entertains conviction. 

Two years ago, that is in December 2011, returning home after visiting their cousins, the little girl blurted out, ‘I know what kind of pet I want!’  The rest of the family knew what was coming for her cousins had just acquired a pet rabbit.  We didn’t exactly roll our eyes but glances were exchanged. 
She is a planner.  A month before she had got me to buy her mother a birthday present: a Christmas tree.  We went to Nuwara Eliya just before Christmas.  She knew we would be retuning on the 26th. She wrote a wish-list to Santa and left it under the tree.  Yes, ‘rabbit’ was included but only after saying a lot of sweet things to Santa, inquiring after his health and commiserating with him for the difficulties of delivering Christmas presents.  She left some biscuits too and included the fact in her ‘Santa Note’.

Our friend didn’t live in Nuwara Eliya.  She grew vegetables in a 60 acre plot of land in Rambodawatte, 3km from the main road.  There was enough space for kids and adults to run around.  Silence.  Just the vegetable plots, the surrounding hills and the jungle beyond the fence.  At one point a laborer called out to my older daughter.  There was a baby rabbit scurrying around the carrot plots.  Not the white, furry kind her sister wanted for a pet but still a rabbit; brown, small and utterly cuddly.  She tried to catch it but failed.  The laborer smiled and caught it for her. She held the creature in her hands and tucked it under her T-shirt ‘to keep it warm’.  I told her that the little rabbit must be terrified and to let it go. 

‘I want to show it to Dayadi,’ she said.  Dayadi, the rabbit-lover, was naturally thrilled.  It was not the Santa Claus gift she wanted, but still.  A few minutes later they let the creature go.  
It was late when we left Rambodawatte.  The little girl was so exhausted, she fell asleep before we got to even Gampola.  We stopped to drop off a friend in Mawanella, but she didn’t get down.  She got up only when we reached home.  She ran inside the house and to the Christmas tree. I was still outside.  She ran out of the house exclaiming, ‘Appachchi, it’s true, it is really true!’

‘What’s true, baby?’

‘Santa!  He’s real!’ 

‘What do you mean?’

‘He came.  He wrote me a letter!’


She showed me.  Her sister had got our friend in Mawanella to write it down when we dropped her home.  I already knew, but played the surprised and ‘as excited father’.  ‘Santa’ had thanked her for her letter and responded to her cordial queries with cordiality of his own. He had apologized for not getter her a rabbit, explaining that the rabbit’s mother, father, brothers and sisters would feel sad if he took the little one away from them.  It was a ‘gift’ more precious than a rabbit, her shining eyes told me. 

This morning she came to me and spoke about that Christmas.  She is older, as old as her sister was when she played ‘Santa’. 

‘Did you write that letter?’

‘Which letter?’

‘The one that Santa kept under the Christmas tree?’

‘No,’ I said truthfully. 

I gathered that the illusion had run its course without any discernible scars.  It is unlikely that she will read this account before she is old enough to smile about the entire incident. 

Siblings quarrel.  They also love.  They take.  They give.  They are magicians too.  They can conjure up Santa Claus.  They can be Santa if and when they want.  They are such miracle makers. 
Yes, I believe in Santa Claus, simply because I believe in children and I, like they, believe in love.