“I don’t believe in Santa Claus,” Clara said.

“Of course not, Sweetie.” I sat down next to her on the couch and put an arm around her shoulder while we looked at the Christmas tree.

“I mean, it’s just a silly thing for little kids to pretend, right?”

“Of course it is,” I smiled down at the her.

We sat together, quietly for a minute or two, admiring the tree, and the sounds of Christmas Eve. Somewhere upstairs a little boy tumbled over in a fit of giggles. Mother banged some pans in the kitchen and hummed along with a Christmas carols on the radio. Finally the little girl spoke again. “Dad?” she asked softly. “Will Santa still bring someone presents even if they don’t believe in him?”

I pulled her tighter and ran my hand through the curls of her hair. “Oh Clara…” I forget sometimes that deep down, she is still just a little girl.