'There is a Santa Claus! He exists as certainly as ballet and your clarinet and Harvey Nichols in Dundrum'
W hen it comes to, like, Christmas presents, Sorcha is easy to buy for.
Fifteen minutes on the internet and I’ve got her a breeding sow for a family in Vietnam, a water buffalo for another crowd in Nepal and a water filtration system for some other crew in Mozambique – which is an actual country, by the way, because I googled it twice. And while I was at it, I also arranged to pay her direct debits to Sight Savers International and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for the first three months of next year.
I’m thinking, two or three more Christmases and that should be the problems of the world cracked.
The little clock in the top-right corner of the screen says it’s beer o’clock and I’ve never been one to argue with science. I shut the laptop, throw the old JP the Second on me like I’m dousing a fire, then tip downstairs, already texting Oisinn to see if he’s up for talking stupid over a few scoops in K Town.
Except Sorcha’s waiting for me in the hall with a face on her as long as the first Lord of the Rings movie.
“Ross,” she goes, “Honor says she doesn’t believe in Santa Claus any more.”
I just nod. “Well,” I go, “that’s going to save us a few squids, isn’t it?”
She ends up having a total conniption with me. “Ross, our six-year-old daughter no longer believes in Santa!”
I’m there, “Whoa! You were the one who said you didn’t believe in – what was it? – perpetuating myths that would eventually serve only to fracture her trust in adult role models?”
“That was before I realised what an essential building block it was in teaching young people the importance of generosity.”
I feel like asking her if she’s ever met our daughter. That’s when I notice the book in her hand. I’m like, “What are you doing with that?” She goes, “Ross, have you ever heard of the Dear Virginia letter?”
“I’ve heard of very little, Sorcha. And most of the things I do hear go in one ear and out the other.”
“It was a famous editorial that the New York Sun published in 1897, in response to a little girl who wrote asking if there really was an actual Santa Claus?”
“And you’re proposing to, what, read it to Honor?”
“With a few changes to the text. I’ve tried to put, like, a modern twist on it?”
I’m suddenly thinking, okay, Kielys can wait. There’s some shit you just can’t miss.
Sorcha opens Honor’s bedroom door and Honor goes, “Er, have you ever heard of knocking?” I sort of, like, hide out on the landing. I don’t know why? Possibly because I’m scared of her.
I hear Sorcha explain a bit of the back story to her, then she storts reading. She’s like, “Dear Honor. It is wrong to say there is no Santa Claus. People who say that have been affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible to their little minds. All minds, Honor, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him.”