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Hello and good day!

Five first graders sit in the front row of a moving yellow school bus. It is cold out and snow is piled up on the side of the roads.

"I made my wish list for Santa last night," says one of the children. "What did you ask for?" inquires another. "Toys, money, new shoes, and a bicycle," says the first. "That's a lot! I hope you get it all," chimes in a third.

"I went to the mall and made my wishes to Santa himself," says the fourth. "I asked for video games and a new skateboard.

The fifth child remains silent. He has something to say on the matter but isn't sure whether he should say it. His father told him something about Santa Claus that could ruin everybody's good time.

While he is pondering how best to proceed, one of the other kids forces his hand. "Hey, what are you asking Santa for?" says the first child. The boy is silent for a moment while he gathers his courage.

"I'm not asking Santa for anything," says the boy.

"What do you mean you're not asking Santa for anything? Don't you want any presents?" chimes in the second.  "Yeah," says the third. "Don't you want any presents? How are you going to get any presents if you don't ask Santa?"

"It's just that, Santa isn't real," says the little boy.

The other four gasp at the sacrilege.

The bus driver hears what has been uttered and turns around to admonish the children. "Keep it down back there," she says.

The children are silent for several moments. "Who told you that?" asks the first.

"My dad," says the boy. "He probably just told you that because he doesn't want to buy you any presents," says the second.

"That's the thing," says the boy. "If Santa is real, why should my dad have to buy me presents. After my dad told me, none of it makes sense anymore."

"My parents tell me every year that Santa is real, and they aren't liars," says the third. "Mine too," says the fourth. "I know what we'll do," says the first. "Let's ask the bus driver."

The bus driver hears the comment, but she wants no part of this controversy. She doesn't know what would happen if it got out that she told a bunch of first graders that Santa isn't real.

"It would be better to ask a teacher," says the bus driver. "She's right," says the first. "When we get to school, we'll ask the first teacher we see," says the second.

They all sit in silent anticipation of the bus's arrival at school. The bus pulls up into a roundabout in front of an outdoor playground. Many teachers are standing on the sidewalk, wearing thick winter clothing, their breath turning to vapor as it leaves their mouth. As children climb down off the buses, the teachers greet them warmly and shepherd them on towards their classrooms.

The five children gather around the first teacher they come upon and begin grilling her.

"This boy says that Santa isn't real. He says his father told him so. But all of our parents tell us that Santa is real, and the teachers make us color in worksheets about Santa and his reindeer and sing songs about him. What's the truth?" demands the first.

"Yeah, is he right, or are we? There are more of us than him, so we must be right!" exclaims the second.

The boy who no longer believes in Santa looks at the teacher. He doesn't say anything. He just looks at her, his eyes filled with hope, hope that this grown up will do the right thing and vindicate him. He knows his dad is right. He knows it deep down.

The whole Santa thing doesn't make any sense when you think about it. It doesn't add up. The teacher looks at the boy and she can see that he is in a tough spot. He is speaking truth against a commonly held belief. Every single one of these kids will grow out of this belief in due time, but it is custom to let children believe the lie for as long as possible. It does after all add a certain magic to the holiday season.

The teacher quickly weighs her options. If she takes the side of the boy and acknowledges that Santa isn't real, the word will spread fast. By the end of the day, the entire student body will have heard about it. Kids will go home and tell their parents what they heard. Parents will call the school complaining about the teacher who ruined Christmas.

On the other hand, if she just sacrifices this boy, that will be the end of it and peace will prevail, which will be to the benefit of the greater good. "Of course, Santa is real," says the teacher and then she pats the children on their heads. "Off to class now."

She looks the boy in his eyes, trying to let him know that he is right, but that she has a responsibility to maintain the harmony of the school.

"Haha!" says the first and sticks his tongue out at the boy. "Told you so! "Looks like coal in the stocking for you!" says the second.

The four take off running towards their classrooms. The boy walks alone across the black top on the cold winter day.

One thing I've always loved about working in the chocolate business is that we manufacture tangible goods. And tangible goods don't allow you to ignore the truth.

If it's hot out, chocolate will melt. We can lie to ourselves and say that heat doesn't melt chocolate, but that assertion will be quickly disproved.

If it has rained too hard out in campo and the roads are muddy and shot, it would be a catastrophe to schedule a shipment of cacao. The truck would sink into the mud.

The physical world does not allow for compromise. The rules are the rules and false beliefs produce bad consequences.

However, when you get into customs and philosophy, truth can be twisted. A twisted truth can be accepted as reality, and when that happens, truth speakers are frequently chastised.

This is not right. The story above is a dramatization of a true story. It happened to my oldest son and was a big part of the reason we decided to homeschool. I'm the dad who taught his kid that Santa isn't real, because I never wanted to lie to my children.

If teachers, who are supposed to be teaching our kids the truth about the world, are willing to teach falsehoods just to maintain the status quo, the institution has gone awry. Truth should be honored and respected.

And truth speakers should be cherished, not humiliated.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!