Alert: spoiler ahead.

In the winter of 1970, I was sitting with several of my fellow students at the yellow duck table, I believe, in Miss Ludwig’s afternoon kindergarten class, when the subject of Santa’s existence came up. My mother was volunteering that day.

A classmate at the table, whom I can’t remember (but his last name probably ended with S, which narrows it down to a kid named Tony, who was a nihilist even at 5, and later may have done time), announced: “There is not a Santa Claus.”

Jeri Smith, a petite girl with silky, straight brown hair, her big blue eyes watering with rage and confusion, replied: “There is too a Santa Claus!”

I whispered to my mother, “Is there a Santa Claus?”

Now, my mother has never been one to sugarcoat the truthshe told me, accurately, that I have a terrible singing voice. But she has shown compassion for others: “There is no Santa Claus, but don’t tell Jeri.”

I remembered this incident last week when I found this in the grass on West Chapel Hill Street, across from the bus station. Let’s hope Santa isn’t lactose intolerant.