Kerry Alys Robinson


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Our family was enjoying dinner on Christmas Eve before bundling up for midnight Mass at St. Thomas More Chapel at Yale University. Christopher and Sophie were tiny but precocious. Advent had been full of lengthy discussions during which their innately inquisitive selves delved ever more deeply into the practicalities of Santa Claus and his primary, global responsibility.

On this night in particular, our tenacious children wanted to know how, exactly, Santa would manage to visit the homes of all of the world’s children before dawn. I give my husband, Michael, a lot of credit. He is a scientist by profession and has always had trouble suspending disbelief. Skepticism was in the air but Michael held his ground.

Then, in the midst of mounting doubt, a miracle happened. Christopher bit into a homemade gingerbread Christmas cookie and lost his tooth. Shouts of congratulations ensued. Great care was taken to examine the tooth and his beautiful toothless smile.

After asking to be excused from the table, Christopher ran upstairs to place the new prized possession under his pillow. All conversations about chimneys, reindeer and time zones were mercifully suspended.

It wasn’t much easier to have conversations that Advent with my closest friend, a Catholic priest. He was fascinated by how parents help their children make the transition to understanding the truth about Santa Claus without risking their disbelief in God. Neither of us had easy answers.

At Mass on Christmas Eve, with my family beside me, enveloped in a community of faith and inspired by exquisite music and a homily on the light and truth of hope, I gave in to wonder and mystery, grateful beyond measure for all that I know to be true but can not explain. Grace. Being in love. Redemption. Transcendence. Forgiveness. Beauty. A parent’s devotion to her child. God becoming human because of love.

Our children fell asleep and had to be carried to the car after Mass. In the morning, they would rise early, too early, and burst into our room with irrepressible joy and anticipation. They knew they could not see the tree until their sleepy parents were awake.

At dawn, the four of us made our way to the living room and it was clear that Santa had been there. The kids raced around the room examining everything with unfettered joy. Santa drank all of the bourbon and ate one macaroon. The stockings were full. Presents were under the tree. But this year there was something different. We all stopped when we saw it, a note for Christopher. It read:


I have waited my whole life to meet Santa Claus. Thanks to you and your perfectly timed lost tooth, I finally did. Imagine our great surprise when we arrived at your home on the same night at the same moment in order to attend to our respective tasks.

Santa and I want to convey our encouragement to you to continue to be the very best person you are intended to be. The world needs you and needs you to be kind and thoughtful and merciful. Remember what your parents have always told you: You can be anything as long as you contribute to and bless the lives of others. Be good to your mom and dad and sister. And don’t forget to floss!

Merry Christmas.

Love, The Tooth Fairy

P.S. I know your dad thinks this is an exorbitant amount for a tooth, but I couldn’t resist! Don’t spend the whole dollar. Give some to charity. You will be in awe of what generosity can accomplish in the world.

I saw it in Christopher’s eyes, a mix of euphoria and incredulity. He thought the handwriting was familiar, the coincidence equivocal, but was overjoyed at the idea of such a momentous meeting in his home. Skepticism yielded to marvel.

He is close to figuring it all out, which makes his cooperation with delight and creativity and mystery and love — the attributes of God — all the more wonderful.


  • christmas
  • family life