December 14, 1907 [The Little Girl Who Did Not Believe in Santa Claus]

If any doubt remains among the Virginias of the world, Edison has settled the matter at long last: Yes, there is a Santa Claus, in close-up—and in bondage. The poor girl will get no toys, while the rich boy's home—stocking'd to the rafters (at least mantel-high)—is guaranteed their Christmas miracle. But the boy in typical Edison fashion experiences a deep sense of class-guilt, compelling him to kidnap Santa at gunpoint and send him to the poor girl's house—where the boy assumes St. Nick's purview and goes down the chimney himself. It's toys all around, and to all a good night.

I won't quibble (although it seems a bit presumptuous for the boy to usurp Santa's role—exactly whom are we to thank for Christmas?), if only because my children so heartily approved of the proceedings. They did wonder, in that knowing way children have (in my experience, the truth of Santa is kept more from parents than their offspring), why Santa would have excluded the girl. We decided she may have been on the Naughty list, which meant that the boy was at fault for usurping Santa's powers of judgment—and thus Naughty himself, it appears—and my dear little demons concocted a sequel in which Santa and the little girl make their way to the boy's house to remove his presents and give them to—whom? My children were at a loss. A child even poorer than the little girl? Someone on the Naughty list who may have done something particularly Nice at the last moment, perhaps after Santa had departed on his rounds?

The politics, let alone ethical intricacies, of listing seemed to be draining the Holiday of its cheer, so I suggested that this year we would ask Santa not to bother—he seemed so busy, and his occupation increasingly perilous—and to pass us by; we had enough toys and sweets already, thank you. This was greeted with appalled silence; they stood there in the snow, staring at me as if my forehead had sprouted its own "right jolly old elf." I looked down at them, neither smiling nor frowning, and walked on. They followed, whispering among themselves, eventually laughing—and informing me I had just been placed on the Naughty list.

I'm willing to accept demotion, as long as they don't inform their mother—of which discretion I have very little hope.


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