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All you have to do is believe

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology

Simple gray rule

All you have to do is believe

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1995, The Syracuse Newspapers

If you believe in goodness, you will know that this is a true story. I heard it from someone who travels to and from the Far North once a year.

It's about a boy we'll call Kevin. He had a problem.

He wanted to believe in Santa Claus. With all his heart, he wanted Santa to exist. As any parent can tell you, 8-year-olds are like that. The act of wishing can be very strong.

But Kevin knew something much more practical. His mother, his father, his friends, his Uncle Denny and everyone else told him Santa Claus comes down the chimney.

"Fat chance," Kevin said to Uncle Denny one day. "We don't even have a chimney. Nobody on our block has a chimney."

Kevin pulled Uncle Denny by the arm and led him outside. On the roofs of all the rows of apartment houses were tall pipes with metal hats. There wasn't a chimney in sight.

"Well, then, Santa will just carry his bag of toys through the front door," Uncle Denny said.

"And if the door is locked?"

"You're asking too many questions," Uncle Denny said.

But Kevin knew he wasn't asking enough questions. His mother was busy wrapping things—and if Santa brought his presents, why was his mother wrapping anything?—and his father was sitting at the computer writing messages to someone far away.

"My turn, Dad," Kevin said. "I want to send somebody a letter."

"15 minutes, OK?" Kevin's father said. Online costs can get out of control. Kevin got an hour a week.

"Yes, Dad, I know."

Kevin clicked the mailbox icon. This is dumb, he thought. Suppose this goes to the wrong place? People will laugh at me.

He typed as carefully as he could.

"TO: Santa."

No. He made it "Santa Claus." It would have to get to him that way.

"I know you can't come down my chimney," Kevin wrote. "I don't have a chimney. Uncle Denny says you can come in the door. Please come in the door. I can leave it unlocked."

At the bottom, Kevin wrote his address. Then he changed it. It would be too dark to see the number on the door.

"Look for me on the first floor. I'll wait for you. I can show you where we live."

Another click and the letter disappeared off the screen. Six minutes. Kevin's father would be proud.

That night, Kevin waited until everyone else was asleep. He got dressed and carefully unlocked the door so no one would hear the latch opening. Kevin stepped down to the bottom of the stairs and waited.

No one came. He sat there all night, watching. No one showed up.

His mother and father started calling for him.

"What are you doing down there?" his sister said.

"Nothing," Kevin said.

He came back in the apartment. He saw presents stacked a foot high under the tree. Kevin frowned. He walked past the tree and all its gifts and headed for his room.

Just as he climbed into bed, Kevin heard his father calling.

"You've got mail, Kevin. On the computer."

Kevin ran over to his father. "Let me look," he said.

It was very short.

"Thank you for your letter, Kevin. If you remember one thing about Christmas, remember this: All you have to do is believe. Chimneys and doors are not important. Faith is."

It wasn't even signed.

"Who's that from?" Kevin's father asked.

Kevin looked at the letter again.

"A friend," Kevin said simply.

They both went back to the living room. The presents were waiting. It was going to be a wonderful day.

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