In other news, i reread The Polar Express. My Santa issues mean i enjoy it less than most. And as predicted, i do prefer my remembered (more accurately, "imagined," i suppose) ending. But not for the reason i had originally expected.
The last page reads: "At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe."
The way i had thought it ended, the bell eventually falls silent for the little boy as he grows up, but he keeps it anyhow, and on the last page of the book one Christmas morn he gives it to one of his children (or maybe said child finds it) and the child hears the sound.
Reading the words "all who truly believe," i was reminded of the Doubting Thomas bit in the Gospels -- "blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (especially because it keeps coming up recently). Thomas believed the man truly was the risen Jesus because the wounds matched. Most of humanity has far less to go on. The narrator of The Polar Express actually went to the North Pole, met Santa, all that. The memory of one's own experience is far more powerful than the tale of someone else's experience. See also: Narnia, Susan, The Last Battle, debate and fanfic relating thereto.
I don't believe Santa is real, so presenting it as truth is deeply discomforting for me. I liked the idea of a magical wonder that one has as a child but loses as an adult. Because that felt real and true to me. But to end with a definitive statement that Santa exists, is for a girl so committed to Truth, not a pleasing ending.