Exhibit A in Aaron Hinks’ investigation into the jolly man in the red suit. Is Santa Claus the real thing or more of a ‘here-in-spirit’ kind of deal?

Exhibit A in Aaron Hinks’ investigation into the jolly man in the red suit. Is Santa Claus the real thing or more of a ‘here-in-spirit’ kind of deal?

COLUMN: The greatest mystery of the season

An eye-witness testimony leads to an ugly truth

It was the first scoop of my career.

A mystery that affected millions, but remained unsolved. A phenomenon that had occurred annually for decades, but about which the adults around me showed surprisingly little curiosity.

How could a full-grown – obese, in fact – man shimmy down a chimney while carrying a big bag of presents? How could he go unnoticed?

Police had his description: Heavy-set Caucasian man, 1,749 years old, six-feet-tall, long white beard and a twinkle in his eye, last seen wearing a red suit with white trim, black belt with gold buckle, and carrying a large sack. The suspect was often spotted flying a red sleigh powered by nine reindeer, one of which had a glowing red nose.

Not only did we know the suspect’s name, but we knew where he lived.

Still, police never captured this elusive man, who’s alleged to have committed millions of break-and-enters.

He would leave presents under the Christmas tree while children and adults were asleep. But why? Was it merely a distraction for other nefarious tasks? Nobody seemed to care.

Despite my lingering questions, I took the bait, opened my presents each Christmas morning and kept my silence. Sometimes it’s better not ask too many questions.

And then it happened – a night I will never forget. I caught him red-handed in my father’s apartment when I was six years old.

Dad came into my room on Christmas Eve.

“He’s here! He’s here!” I was told.

Sleep still in my eyes, I climbed out of bed and peeked around the bedroom door frame, quietly and carefully. I didn’t want to risk startling him.

I spied on him as he tippy-toed to the cookies and milk, walked around the corner and disappeared.

It was magical.

That was all the evidence I needed. I was an eye-witness and I was eager to testify.

In the years following, the debate would surface amongst my friends. Was Santa real?

I fought relentlessly to convince my friends of the truth. But as I got older, the scales began to shift. It was no longer me against a few, it was my word against everyone. The debates eventually turned into teasing.

I was still holding out hope, when I was 10 years old, that Santa was real, but I was overwhelmed with skepticism.

I needed the truth.

After Christmas shopping with my mother, I brought up the topic.

By now, I had got better at not only asking questions, but really listening to the answers.

“Mom, do you believe in Santa?” I asked.

She decided, at that moment, she would be a politician.

“I believe in the spirit of Santa,” she responded.

“That’s not what I asked… Do you believe in Santa Claus?”

“I believe in the spirit of Santa Claus,” she said again.

I quickly pieced it together. Her answer was a remarkable revelation that told me all I needed to know. That was not the real Santa I had watched sneak around my living room.

I felt embarrassed. After years of arguing with my friends, I was, indeed, the fool.

Instead of being Santa’s greatest ally, I became his worst enemy. From then on out, anytime someone asked if Santa was real, I vowed to set them straight with the cold, ugly truth: Santa is a hoax.

However, much like a cold case file collecting dust in an evidence locker for 25 years, a new question has emerged. It’s one I never thought to ask at the time.

If that wasn’t Santa in my living room that Christmas Eve, then who was it?

A paid actor? A family friend?

Or, perhaps, it was, in fact, the spirit of Santa Claus.

Did it really matter?

Even for a perpetually curious journalist like myself, I realized, once again, that sometimes it’s better not to ask too many questions.

ChristmasSanta Claus

Just Posted

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
Fraser Health adds 4 first-come-first-serve vaccination clinics to Surrey

First 1,000 people to show up to receive vaccine

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found dead in South Surrey following a wellness check

IIO says officers ‘reportedly spoke to a man at the home before departing’

Surrey RCMP in the 4900-block of 148th Street, a short road just off of King George Boulevard, on May 15, 2021 after a male was allegedly assaulted with a “pipe-like” weapon that morning. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey RCMP investigating after person reportedly injured with ‘pipe-like’ weapon

Police investigating incident in the 4900-block of 148th Street

The leadership team at Johnston Heights Secondary is looking to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society through the Relay for Life, planned as an online and in-person event (following COVID-19 restrictions) for the week of June 1 to 7.
Pushed back a year, Surrey students well on their way to Relay for Life fundraising goal

Johnston Heights Leadership Team aims to raise $6,500 for Canadian Cancer Society

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his ‘Community Connections’ videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Gwenne Farrell

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

B.C. Wildfire Services shows a fire on Chehalis Forest Service Road as of Sunday, May 16, 2021. (BC Fire Services)
Wildfire near Harrison Mills grows to 3 hectares, BC Fire Service on site

Resident near wildfire: ‘I pray that the Creator brings rain as soon as possible’

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 16

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Most Read