The Rockwood Files: Is Santa really real?

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

There’s a lot of Santa speculation around our house this season. The kids are now 11, 8 and 6, and they’re asking much more specific questions about the man in red.

I’m both thankful and surprised it hasn’t happened before now. Our goal has always been to extend the mystery as long as possible, especially since there’s a kindergartner in the house and older brothers are lousy at keeping secrets.

But the other day, our 8-year-old put the question to me as directly as he could: “Mom, is Santa Claus really real?”

His 6-year-old sister was standing right next to him when he asked, and she looked at me expectantly, like an innocent little Cindy Lou-Who.

I weighed my options and decided to go with the old answer-a-question-with-a-question reply: “If Santa isn’t real, then who keeps leaving those presents under the tree every year with tags that say ‘from Santa’?”

Dubiously, Jack considered my non-answer and said, “Well, my friends and I have been talking about it, and we have mixed feelings.”

“I see,” I said. “When I was a kid, I wondered about it, too. But I sure hope Santa is real because I want him to bring me a present. What are you hoping that he brings for you?”

At that point, the conversation segued into a long list of Lego toys, video games, books and Nerf guns, and we didn’t circle back around to those “mixed feelings” about jolly old St. Nick.

A few days later, we let the kids invite a few friends to go with us to see a movie matinee. The animated movie was called “Rise of the Guardians,” and it’s an adventure starring some of childhood’s most beloved personalities including the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost, the Sand Man and Santa Claus. At the heart of the movie is this age-old question about believing in the magic of things unseen.

During the drive home from the movie, the kids talked about their favorite parts of the story and one of our kids offered his analysis: “You know, I don’t think some of those people in the movie really exist. Like Jack Frost and the Sand Man. They’re probably make-believe. But I think the Easter Bunny and Santa are real.”

“Why do you think those two are real if the others aren’t real?” asked one of his friends.

“Well, for one thing, last Christmas my present was a Kindle Fire. And I know it came from Santa because my parents can’t afford that kind of thing.”

I shot a quick look over to Tom, who was driving the minivan and biting down hard on his lip so he wouldn’t laugh. Later in private, we both agreed that the kids are lucky that Santa isn’t nearly as destitute as we are.

We also agreed that, even though we know things will change in seasons to come, for now it’s awfully nice to have a house full of kids who keep on believing.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s new book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

Author Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography