Chapter Eight: Father Christmas
On the evening before Christmas Day, Father Christmas always visited with Jonathan. This had been a tradition every year for as long as Jonathan could remember.
However, this year would be different for Jonathan because he knew something he did not know before. He knew there was no such thing as Father Christmas.
Jonathan learned this truth in the most unexpected way.
He and Tristan and Isabella had been playing hide and seek over at Jonathan’s house. Jonathan decided to hide in his dad’s clothes closet while playing hide and seek. While in the closet, Jonathan noticed a worn old cardboard box with a red costume and curly white hair poking out of the lid of the box. He could not resist looking inside the cardboard box. When he looked within, he saw a red Father Christmas costume and a false, curly white beard.
The next morning at school, Jonathan explained to Miss Teacher that he had discovered the secret of Father Christmas: That in fact there was no such thing as Father Christmas and that Jonathan’s dad had been wearing a costume and false beard as a disguise, and dressing up as Father Christmas for all these years.
Miss Teacher was aware of the situation but advised Jonathan not to disclose this information to his dad.
“Your papa so loves to dress up as Le Pere Noel. He is always excited like a little boy when he puts on the costume and the beard, and he stuffs a puffy pillow under the costume to make him have a big tummy. And the hours he spends in front of the mirror practicing his deep toned Father Christmas voice – he works so hard on that. So please, Jonathan, let your papa believe that you think he is the real Father Christmas – will you please do that? Just for a few more years, let him think that you believe Father Christmas to be real. One day, I shall gently break it to him that it is time to stop. Then, he and I shall come and tell you that there is no Pere Noel and you must pretend to be deeply disappointed, yes?”
“Oui maman,” conceded Jonathan to Miss Teacher, somewhat wearily and with a sense of resignation.
Miss Teacher knew all this about Jonathan’s dad because she was married to Jonathan’s dad and was Jonathan’s mother.
It was now evening and the moment had arrived for Jonathan’s dad to disguise himself as Father Christmas and enter Jonathan’s room and sit upon his bed as he did every year.
“What would you like for Christmas this year, Jonathan?” asked Father Christmas.
“Father Christmas, I would like to have just one answer for my question instead of two for my Answer Collection. I have been asking a particular question to people and I am getting two different answers. Some say that the answer is to be the most popular person in the world, and others say it is to better understand the world in which we live. I have no idea which is the correct answer and which is the incorrect answer. How can I have an Answer Collection without knowing the correct answer, Father Christmas?”
“Good question, Jonathan. The answer to that question is that you need to now make up your own mind which answer is correct. Nobody can decide that for you. You must decide.”
“You mean I have to decide which of the two answers are correct?” asked Jonathan.
“Yes, it must be your decision as to which is correct, Jonathan” explained Father Christmas, “All of us must one day decide for ourselves which is the correct answer when two alternative answers are presented to us.”
“Father Christmas,” began Jonathan, “How would you go about deciding which is the correct answer?”
“Well,” pondered Father Christmas, “I know that there is only one real answer. There cannot be two real answers. So, the way I would decide is to think about what is realistic to me.”
“Mr. Talker, MP, he says that he is realistic and that maman is unrealistic,” explained Jonathan, “He says he lives in the real world and maman lives in the illusion of the classroom which is not real life.”
“Well then,” considered Father Christmas, “Perhaps Mr. Talker, MP, had the real answer, which is that we all need to become the most popular persons in the world.”
“But that does not feel right to me, Father Christmas,” reflected Jonathan quietly, thoughtfully, “It feels… unrealistic. It feels more realistic to better understand the world in which we live.”
“What if,” challenged Father Christmas, “It is only a schoolboy and his teacher that feel that that is the correct answer. And all the other schoolchildren, like Tristan and Isabella, and all the other adults, like Mr. Baker and Mr. Dressmaker and Mr. Printer and Mr. Brickbuilder, all feel that it is the right answer to be the most popular people in the world? Why don’t you just agree with everyone else?”
“Because, Father Christmas,” explained Jonathan slowly, carefully, “If it does not ring true to me, I cannot agree with it. I cannot agree with the idea that all we need to do is be popular. It does not ring true. It rings true to me that we need to better understand the world in which we live. What should I do, Father Christmas? How shall I resolve this and decide upon the correct answer to the question?”
“With patience,” advised Father Christmas, “Be patient Jonathan, and in time, at the right time, the real answer will emerge and the false answer will simply fall away. Be patient.”
And so Jonathan took the advice of his dad and he decided to be patient and wait to see which answer would emerge as the correct and real answer.
He stopped collecting answers for his Answer Collection. He stopped asking questions. He just waited and waited for the one right answer to his unique question with two answers.
Jonathan learned to be patient.