His name was Miles, and we met on Christmas Eve. He was only five years old at the time, making him the youngest cousin of the bunch. He had a strong belief in Santa and his elves, along with Rudolph and his reindeer friends. Although I never denied the existence of all these things, he was able to tell that I did not believe as strongly as he did. He quickly took it upon himself to prove just how right his belief in Santa was.

He gave me the “facts” on all things that could possibly be related to Santa, he read all the Christmas books, recited a few stories of his own, sang every Christmas song he knew the lyrics to, mixed in were a few songs he was only able to hum. To my surprise, the look on his face did not show aggravation at my disbelief. He was overjoyed for an excuse to be the teacher to a dumbfounded student. “Would you like me to show you how to send a letter to the North Pole?”, he asked. I politely declined. If he was disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm I had shown, he did little to show it. “Maybe next year”, he grinned. He skipped to the next room to find his next student. If he was Santa, I was the Grinch.

I was only six years his elder, but I felt much older. The strong belief he had in something so silly seemed ridiculous at first. Then, it became amazing. I failed to recall a time period when I believed in anything as strong-heartedly as he did. His mere age allowed him to believe in what I could not. His parents were his most trustworthy source. He would believe anything.

What is it about growing up that causes people to question everything? The world slowly becomes less trustworthy as the days go by. Each person begins to need some sort of evidence to believe in anything. Without the Bible, would there be Christianity? If animals had never been domesticated or endangered, would there be vegetarians? If little children never received presents under the tree on Christmas Day, would they still believe in Santa?

People often consider this childlike belief to be cute, funny, “they will grow out of it”, most say. Perhaps they shouldn’t grow out of it. Their innocence is a lesson to everyone. Their belief makes them happy whether or not it is perceived as ridiculous. To be a child with bright eyes and whimsy is better than being a cloudy-eyed, mundane adult.

I did not see Miles the next Christmas. I did not write a letter to send to the North Pole. I did see Miles five Christmases later. He had no stories, no songs, no facts.

a short story about growing up and losing faith. You can find the written story on my blog. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. — Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:


an essay I wrote in high school with the instructions to follow the example of “Homeless” by Anna Quindlen and define faith.

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