By Erin Klingler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: November 2001
Summary: In this vignette, Lois and Clark's oldest son, Jon, writes a letter to Santa Claus. But why isn't his plea to Santa as heartfelt as usual?
Author's Note: This is just a short, sweet, little Christmas story that I got inspired to write one morning during the holidays. I hope you like it. :) As always, any and all feedback is welcomed.
My mom and dad wanted me to write you a letter, telling you what I want for Christmas. So just to be able to tell my mom the truth, that I *did* tell you want I want, here goes.
I want one of those scooters that are so hot this year. All my friends are asking for them this year, too, and it would be fun if we could ride our new scooters together. But I know it's not going to do any good to tell you what I want because, the truth of the matter is, I already know that you don't exist.
Well, I shouldn't say that. I know you *did* exist. Sort of. I know that Saint Nicholas would ride around town on a donkey and drop bags of gold down the chimneys of the poor people. He was such a wonderful man…a true saint. So when he died in 342, others decided to carry on his giving tradition and reserve the season of Christ's birth for the showing of their love for mankind. And that's how the myth of 'Santa Claus' came about.
I used to think you were the absolute greatest, Santa. I used to count down the days until Christmas Eve when you'd come down our chimney while we were asleep, to leave presents underneath the tree for me, my brother Clark jr., and my little sister Laura. I used to do everything I could to stay awake to catch you sliding down our chimney with our presents, and I always worked extra hard in those last few weeks before Christmas to be extra nice to my sister and my brother, in the hopes that it would make up for a year's worth of teasing and quarrelling.
But this year, things are different. I know you're not watching me through some magic ball from the North Pole, making sure that I'm being good. I know that I no longer have to impress you to guarantee myself good gifts. I'm growing up, Santa, and I no longer have you up on a pedestal in my mind.
That honor is reserved for my dad.
You see, Santa, this past year I found out that my dad is Superman. Yes, Superman. The man who flies around the world in a tight suit made of red and blue, instead of your loose one made of red and white. And he doesn't bring gifts to people by sliding down chimneys and depositing them under their Christmas trees. He brings entirely different kinds of gifts to the people of the world.
Let me back up a bit. First of all, Dad doesn't know that I know. As far as he knows, in my eyes, he's still the same, normal, everyday—though sometimes a bit too stern and overprotective—dad, not the hero the whole world worships and relies on to keep them safe from harm.
I found out about Dad by accident, really. I was up waiting for him one night to get his help with my math assignment, but I'd fallen asleep on the couch in the front room while waiting. I must've been asleep for a while, because I remember waking up to the sounds of our grandfather clock in the front hall chiming twelve. My mom must've thought I was already in bed, or else she would've woken me up and shepherded me upstairs.
So anyway, as I was lying on the couch hearing the clock strike twelve and trying to convince myself to get up to go upstairs to bed, I heard a sudden 'whoosh' and felt a cold breeze wash over me. I was too startled to do anything but lie there, a little scared, I must confess, as I waited to see what would happen next.
In the next moment, I heard my mom's voice call quietly from the kitchen, "Clark, is that you?"
Then I heard my dad's voice whisper back, "Yeah, it's me."
Lying deathly still on the couch, I heard the sound of my mom coming out of the kitchen, and Dad's footsteps crossing the hardwood floors of the dining room. I wrinkled my nose at the sound of the kissing noises that followed. Then there was a quiet moment, followed by the sound of my mom's low, contented sigh as they were no doubt hugging. Yuck.
But then I heard my mom's voice again. "How did it go?"
It was quiet again for a moment, and when I finally heard Dad's voice, his voice sounded funny, like he was having a hard time getting the words out. "I put the fire out, but I didn't get to one of the apartment's tenants, an older man, in time. He was pretty badly burned by the time I got to him, and I flew him to the hospital. He's alive, but he's going to have a really tough recovery."
"Oh, Clark, I'm so sorry," I heard my mom say, her voice sounding just like it did last week when she hugged me after my basketball game when I'd missed my last-second lay up, causing my team to lose.
There was a silence that echoed throughout the house before I heard my dad's voice again. "I know I shouldn't blame myself. But I can't help thinking that if I'd just gotten there sooner…"
"You can't blame yourself," my mom insisted. "As fast and as strong as you are, you just can't save everybody from everything."
I heard my dad sigh. "I know. But seeing people in pain, and wondering if I could've done anything differently…it just never gets easier. Even after all these years…"
At that point, I couldn't help myself. I very quietly used my elbow to push myself up from where I lay, and very, very cautiously, peered up over the back of the couch. My eyes widened when I saw my dad standing there, dressed in the famous red and blue Superman suit, hugging Mom tightly. I was surprised to see a tear running down my dad's cheek.
They stopped hugging a few moments later, and I watched my mom smile tenderly at Dad—Superman—and reach up to gently wipe the tear from his cheek. Then she reached for his hand and took a step backwards toward the stairs.
"Come on, let's go to bed," she said, sounding very mom- and bossy-like. "You'll feel better after a good night's sleep. And we can call the hospital in the morning, if you want, to see how that man is doing."
Dad nodded as he let Mom lead him toward the stairs. "I'd like that." Then, changing the subject, he said, "How'd things go for you? Are the kids all asleep?"
Mom nodded and smiled. "Finally." But then, from where I lay, I spotted a look of confusion change her features. "Although, Jon wanted you to help him with his math. He refused to let *me* help him. But I guess he ended up going to bed."
"I'll make sure to ask him tomorrow over breakfast if he still needs help," Dad said as I watched them flick off the front hall's light and start up the stairs to their bedroom.
What they said after that, I don't know. I could hear the sound of their voices, but I couldn't make out the words—even if I *had* been able to think clearly. I continued to lay on the couch for a long time in the dark, listening to the ticking of the grandfather clock in the hall, and trying to come to terms with what I'd just seen and heard.
The dad I thought I knew wasn't all that I thought he was. He's much more. He's the man who cheers me on at my basketball games, helps me with my homework and listens to my gripes about school and friends. He's there for me when I need him, even though he does dash out for strange reasons from time to time— but now I understand why.
But he isn't just that man, my dad. He's also the superhero who helps *others* with their problems, using every power in his being to make the world a better place for everybody. He selflessly does what he can to help, to create a world that would be as good as it can be for me, for Clark jr., for Laura, for my mom, for my grandparents, for my friends. And even for those people who he's never met.
So I hope you understand why I don't have you up on a pedestal any more, Santa. Because, you see, I have a new hero in my life. And no, it's not Superman.
It's my dad.
Have a Merry Christmas, Santa, even if I don't believe in you any longer. But now, I have new people to believe in.