I wonder how parents today handle Santa - with the internet, the adult-oriented sitcoms, the new Christmas movies that lack magic.

When I was a kid all we had to make us doubt were the other kids, and the other kids were just as innocent as we were.

I remember when a rumor made its way through our elementary school that Santa Claus had been hit by a train. Some said he was killed, others said he was injured. But the bottom line was that he was in no condition to deliver presents that year.

We were panicked. We huddled in groups and proclaimed that this couldn't be true. We’d go home and ask our parents. They would know.

That was how we handled such crises in the golden age of innocence. Today, a child would probably go online and find out what Snopes.com had to say about Santa and railway accidents - and would then tell the twenty kids who had forwarded her the story that it was just an urban legend. What she would do after that point though, I can only guess.

Maybe she'd click on a link to the history of Saint Nick, her face falling as she quickly realized the truth. Or maybe she'd question the validity of the Wikipedia article and ask that it be corrected and locked. Or maybe she wouldn't even check Snopes, because her innocence had already been lost.

The V-Chip and internet filter software may shield today's children from pornography and violence - but what technology has been created to protect the magic?

We had no need for such protection when I was a child.

So, surrounded by ardent believers, I'm not sure what caused me to doubt Santa, but one Christmas I decided to test him. Maybe I had watched too much Scoobie Doo episodes, but I just had to know the truth, and so I set a trap.

Previously that year, I had stayed up all night to catch the Easter Bunny as he tried to sneak a basket of candy into my room. When the sun was up and I still hadn't heard one hop, I was afraid that maybe the Easter Bunny had bypassed our house altogether and there would be no candy. (Perhaps it should have been mentioned in one of the songs that the Easter Bunny didn't like snoops and spies, and that curious kids received no sweets.)

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Lisa J. Parker's writing and creative works including poems, books, short stories, essays, movies, greeting graphics, and photographs.

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