Kids are smarter than we think. They know Santa isn’t real.
Maybe they believe for a time.
Mom and Dad are superheroes and fairies live in the back yard.
Too soon they discover that Santa isn’t real. Still, but for a few moments of dawning incredulity at the Great Lie, and a few twinges of disappointment, they don’t care. Underneath it all, they get that the bearded guy in the red suit; at the mall, in the movies, on the corner ringing a bell; is a symbol that makes them feel safe and loved. We parents care a great deal more and come up with all sorts of ridiculous whoppers to keep the myth alive.
When the girls were young, we hosted a brunch for several years, always the Saturday before Christmas. Someone posted a sign on the door May our house always be too small to hold all our friends and the squeeze was on. These days, texting teens produce similar queues at my door: the current sign reads Sorry, we’re full. Back then, we’d stack the breakfast table high with brunch goodies and a promise of spiked coffee for our fatigued parenting peers. Nobody was there for the food.
The star attraction was Santa, a relative or friend wheedled into the resplendent suit, crouched at the fireplace, waiting for my signal. Santa’s sack, stuffed by us, had nothing but books wrapped in red tissue with names of each child written as cues for Fake Santa. The moment of his arrival was always met with a great squeal that thrilled me, sucker that I am for Grade A Silliness. Inevitably, someone would point out that Santa’s beard was a fake and be shushed by his parents because none of us wanted it ever to stop, all of us keen to kick off the shroud of adulthood if only for enough time to ward off the marathon toy wrapping to come at midnight.
We forget that the big Santa lie is always discovered and usually met with acceptance. As the middle kid of five, I had to pretend for what seemed like years for my kid brother and sister.
|Gap tooth, red bow, that would be me on left|
The gig finally up, we continued to stuff one another’s stockings for years. Individual bags were left in Mom and Dad’s closet. Each of us put trinkets there for every member of the family sometime before Christmas Eve. Mom and Dad then stuffed the stockings and no one was allowed to tell who bought what. The next morning, the big reveal was as sweet as any of the days I waited up to hear sleigh bells. I didn’t want to believe it: Christmas was all about seeing my siblings react to the stuff I bought them.
I still love Christmas Eve and there are bags in our closet for the elves in this household to fill. Nobody believes in fairies anymore, but the big guy with the quivering belly is jolly enough and hoping for a beer with the cookies left out for Santa.
Hope your stocking is filled with whatever you need tonight.
Ho Ho Ho.
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