Archive for Monday, December 19, 2011

River City Jules: Christmas magic spoiled by morning game show

December 19, 2011


Warning: If you are younger than 11, skip this article and go straight to the comics!

I was at home with my grandmother enjoying a lazy morning before kindergarten when we settled in for our daily dose of “Family Feud.”

Richard Dawson had led another nail-biter all the way to the final challenge: “Name something you believed in as a child that you no longer believe in as an adult.”

Innocent, as suburban 6-year-olds were before Google took over, I watched the players hit their buzzers during what would become the final moments of my childhood.

One-by-one the top three answers spun around with a “Bing!” and applause to reveal the unthinkable. In less than a minute, the three most important figures in a kid’s life were outed as frauds on nationally syndicated television. I turned to my grandmother hoping she would deny it, but all she could do was shrug her shoulders and offer a sad, sympathetic smile.

I went through the day numbed by the trauma of watching Richard Dawson rip from my now-hardened heart all I’d held precious. Later that night my mom attempted to reconcile my previous understanding of the magic of the season with this new information, ending with a thinly veiled threat should I repeat any of it to anyone, especially to my little sister. But it was too late for condolences. That magic was gone.

By the time December rolled around, I was a wee, yet bitter, young lady. While classmates babbled on with excitement about Christmas, I rolled my eyes in disgust wondering how they could be so gullible. Ignorantly they debated which mall had the real Santa, whether or not the toys were handmade and how he breaks into homes without chimneys.

I sat Grinch-like through the entire month appalled at the immaturity of my fellow kindergarteners, wondering why I, with my vast wealth of knowledge, would have to be tortured by their sophomoric ramblings every afternoon.

Yet, tempting as it was to show-and-tell, I bit my tongue bloody. For deep in my heart I knew the wrath their mothers would unleash on our family if I breathed even a word.

Gradually, though, my abhorrence for their naiveté turned to envy, and I realized I longed deeply to see the season through the eyes of a child again rather than as a marketing gimmick. Believing had made my classmates so … happy.

I started small, nodding at their wide-eyed statements of wonder, affirming their faith in flying reindeer and eventually insisting we leave out cookies and milk for Santa at home.

So good was I at willing this faith that still, to this day, I lie in bed every Christmas Eve listening for the jingling of sleigh bells with such fervor I am certain I actually hear them.

No matter who visits your home this week, I hope you are able to hear the jingling of bells, too. May their light linger long after they leave and may you have the happiest of holidays yet.

—Julie Dunlap can be reached at


WillieWilson 6 years, 6 months ago

River City J is an old soul! My Santa epiphany was even more jarring. My sister witnessed an act that vaporized the rocked by this she decided to de-pants all of the mythical figures from my childhood. Tooth Fairy....yanked Easter Bunny....captured....Santa...slayed. All while being told about the Birds and the Bees. This explains quite a bit about me.

Great, Great job RCJ! Love your work and Merry Christmas to you and your family!

RiverCityJules 6 years, 6 months ago

You made me laugh very hard out loud! Merry Christmas to you and yours as well!

bearded_gnome 6 years, 6 months ago

from Newseum:

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. "Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. "Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.' "Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Jeff Plinsky 6 years, 6 months ago

If you want to regain your belief in Santa Claus, get involved in the Ballard Center's Adopt-a-Family next year. When you see how many gifts arrive for families in need, you will know that he/she/it is very real, and very much alive in Lawrence, KS. There are two ways to experience his magic - as the object of his generosity, or the perpetrator.

We have seen Santa, and he is us!

RiverCityJules 6 years, 6 months ago

One thousand percent true! As long as we give like Santa, his magic (and his message) never dies :)

pace 6 years, 6 months ago

I believe in Santa Clause, he was a personal friend of my Dad. One year my brother kept saying he didn't believe and Santa gave him nada. I don't think he is as fat as many artists imagine.

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