I never believed in Santa Claus. I was never one of those lucky kids that had the opportunity to believe in a made up saint who traveled the world in one night bringing gifts to good children and coal for the bad. All the children I knew received gifts, even the bad ones, but not me. There were years where I didn’t even know it was Christmas and would end up at a friend’s house getting a line like “Go home, it’s Christmas.” We had it the hard way I guess, but even when we did get a Christmas there was never really a Santa Claus.

I knew that my grandma was responsible for the gifts or later Dad and then Mom. I was thankful to get anything, but it was never that magical feeling that you see on TV or in movies. I didn’t understand the magic of Christmas until I had kids of my own. And I never got a chance to believe in Santa Claus.

My friends might tell you that I am a cynic. I have been described as being doom-and-gloom and having a less than bright outlook on future events. You might say it’s a crappy way to live one’s life. I have generally used it as a method of protection. You see, if you expect the world to turn roses into rain you don’t leave much wiggle room for disappointment. But there are some things that I do somehow believe in. There are some things in which, even to my own amazement, I place my faith, as it were. I trust my wife and my marriage. I never really give it a second thought, joking aside. And I had complete faith in the company I worked for . . . until today.

You see, I bought into the lie. Mind you, a lie with the best intentions is still what it is . . . a lie. Before today, I felt comfortable and protected in my job. As long as I kept my head down and did my share, minding not to rock the boat, I could have said job until I retired. People had worked at this company for over thirty years and had lived this dream, so it was not out of the ordinary. I felt safe and not at all naive at the same time.

I had already been run off from the same company before for being brash and impulsive. I learned my lesson and I begged for my job back, because I believed what the company stood for. Family values. This company was family owned and operated until today. The third generation ran the place and the fourth worked among us. And the family was great and strong. They ran the place like lords of the realm, but they were fair and generous. Every year we had a fat profit-sharing check and a 3 percent raise. It was a dream come true to a mere field technician turned tie-wearing phone jockey. I finally could smile and enjoy coming to work every day . . . which is rare. I believed in my company and would fight to defend it.

Then this morning, we were told that our beloved company was acquired by a larger entity. Almost 400 people gasped at once. We were gobbled up like so many other American companies in an increasingly greedy environment. I used to tell people that family owned corporations like ours did not exist in America anymore. Today I am sad to say I was right.

We are still here and nothing has changed as of today, but I have to admit to feeling empty and lost. I think I understand why all those kids were so shattered when they figured out a made up elf was a figment of their parents’ imaginings in order to keep balance and control. “Be a good boy, Jr., and Santa will bring you lots of presents”. Well, I don’t believe in Santa. And now, although it hurts to admit, I guess I can’t believe in the American family business anymore.

Damn . . . I wish there was a Santa.


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