Ordkonsts julkalender lucka 17: Om att tro på tomten17 december, 2011
Jag och min jämnåriga kusin har firat nästan varenda en av våra jular tillsammans. När vi var yngre brukade vi dela rum under tiden som julfirandet pågick hos mormor och morfar och när vi gått och lagt oss spenderade vi flera timmar med att diskutera morgondagen. Existensen eller icke-existensen var ett ofta återkommande ämne men jag kan inte minnas när vi till slut övergav tron på tomten.
I Jonathan Franzens fantastiska Freedom berättar stackars godtrogna Patty om hur hon hånas av sin familj för att hon trott på jultomten tills hon var 14 år gammal. Pattys godtrogenhet gör sig påmind igen när hon en jul flera år senare blir uppringd av sin vän Eliza, som gör allt för att dölja sitt heroinmissbruk för Patty:
The dreadful call from Eliza came on Christmas night. Patty answered it on the extension in the basement, where she was watching an NBA game for herself. Before she could even apologize, Eliza herself apologized for her silence and said that she’d been buisy seeing doctors. ”They say I have leukemia.
”I’m starting treatments after New Year’s. My Parents are the only other ones who know, and you can’t tell anyone. You especially can’t tell Richard. Will you swear you won’t tell anyone.”
Patty’s cloud of guilt and worry now condensed into a storm of sentiment. She wept and wept and asked Eliza if she was sure, if the doctors were sure. Eliza explained that she’d been feeling increasingly draggy as the fall went on but she hadn’t wanted to tell anyone, because she was afraid Richard would dump her if it turned out she had mono, but she’d finally felt so crappy that she went to see a doctor, and the verdict had come back two days earlier: leukemia.
”Is it the bad kind?”
”They’re all bad.”
”But the kind you can get better from?”
”There’s a good chance the treatments will help.” Eliza said. ”I’ll know more in a week.”
”I’ll come back early. I’ll stay with you.”
But Eliza, oddly enough, no longer wanted Patty staing with her.
Regarding the Santa Claus buissnes: the autobiographer has no sympathy with lying parents, and yet there are degrees to this. There are lies you can tell a person who’s been given a surprise party, lies told in a spirit of fun, and then there are lies you tell a person to make them foolish for believing them. […] Patty believed that parents have a duty to teach their children how to recognize reality when they see it.