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On Santa Claus

December 17, 2009

I’ll start by saying that I’m a fan.

I like Santa. I like singing about him; I like  reading about him. I like remembering how I tried to wait up for him, how I was sure I heard sleigh bells and rooftop prancing and pawing, how I tried to dream visions of sugarplums (I still don’t have a firm idea of what those are). We baked cookies and set out milk, and my parents took care of the rest. We went to bed with flat stockings and awoke to find them plumped up with candy and toys.

It did not occur to me that our chimney was a 12-inch stovepipe that made a 90-degree turn before ending in a potbellied stove, which as our only source of heat was always keeping the home fires burning. I don’t remember worrying about whether that fur-trimmed red suit was flame-retardant, or asking how he’d squeeze through. Reality isn’t really what kept me going at that age, so I’m sure I assumed Christmas magic would take care of everything.

Speaking of “that age,” I’m not exactly sure how old I was when I realized Santa was a good story. I’m pretty sure I was in the first grade, but I don’t remember who told me, or if anyone did. I remember believing, and I remember later helping to preserve the ruse for my younger siblings and cousins.  My most surprising Santa experience was with a child who didn’t want one–for at least one Christmas season, my cousin Emma was not okay with a big bearded man coming into the house in the middle of the night via chimney. But none of my holiday memories are punctuated with a traumatic dose of reality.

My dad’s sure seem to be. Since my siblings and I outgrew Santa, he claims that he laments his role in misleading us. Last weekend at a small Christmas party, my oldest friend’s father described the Santa story as “lies.”

Already I am taking the traditional cavalier approach. I came home from TJ Maxx recently with a board book edition of Clement Moore’s classic poem, and I made ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas part of Jack’s bedtime routine last week.  I have been gaily singing about jolly old St. Nicholas and how he’s coming to town, and all that business about how he sees you when you’re sleeping and knows if you’re awake still strikes me as more charming than invasive. By next year I’m sure I’ll be forging Santa’s signature on gift tags and belting out with extra gusto the lines that warn against pouting and naughtiness.

Reality plays a more central role in my life these days than it did during my childhood, but when it comes to Santa, I’m still happy to rely on Christmas magic to ward off any eventual feelings of betrayal.

At least until my hindsight arrives. Check back in five to 10 years.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sister permalink
    December 18, 2009 4:57 pm

    Ho, ho, ho.

  2. December 18, 2009 8:24 pm

    I agree whole-heartedly. We still like to pretend there’s a Santa around my parents’ house — even though we’ve all long outgrown it. It’s just more fun that way. Plus it allows me to cling to the hope that I really will get that villa in Italy. Any year now… 🙂

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