Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What do you tell your kids about Santa?

The night before Christmas, my sister and I would do our annual ritual. Decorate cookies with frosting and sprinkles. Place them on a special plate, and leave it out with a glass of milk for Santa.

I was also sure to grab the bag of carrots for his reindeer. We didn't want to forget about Rudolph did we?

We'd watch the weatherman on our local station track Santa and run to bed when he showed him flying over our area, and try to get fast to sleep as quickly as possible.

One night I was sure I heard him and his reindeer land on the roof. I peered across the bed to my sister who looked as wide-eyed as I when we heard his jingle bells and a "HO HO HO" from the living room.

Maybe I dreamt it all, maybe we had some good actors in our family. Or maybe it was Santa.

We'd wake up in the middle of the night and peek into the living room to see what he left behind. Under the twinkle of the tree lights there was a huge pile of gifts. We'd whisper and tiptoe around peeking at the boxes--Careful not to touch them, we knew that would ensue a butt whipping.--But we'd read the names on the gifts and see who's was who's. The big one behind the tree was my sisters, the strange-shaped packaged one with a giant bow was mine.

It was such a joy to do this year after year.

I'm not quite sure when it dawned on me that Santa wasn't who I thought he was. Maybe it was finding random presents around the house before Christmas. Or noticing that my mom and Santa had the exact same handwriting. Maybe it was some jerk kid at school who ruined it, I can't remember. But I never told my siblings anything otherwise.

My parents never did either. When I'd bring my detective work to their attention they'd find a way to twist the tale so that I still believed. And for a while it worked. I'm cool with that.
Photo by Jackie Willome Photography (more coming soon!)
These memories, and a post on my friend's blog got me thinking about this tradition. There's no question about it, Santa is coming to our house. In fact, Lil' J has already met him. Twice. The magic will live on in my home until my kiddos are old enough to do their own detective work. I hope that's not until they're at least seven or eight. Christmas never seemed quite as fun and magical after I knew my parents were behind Santa.

Last night we put up our tree together. Like last year she laughed when I shook the decorations. I think next year she'll be able to help me hang more of the decorations, and soon enough, she and her siblings can be in charge of it all, and they can discuss their own Santa stories and theories.
I didn't see my parents as having lied to me, or distrust them after that. Looking back, I admire and thank them for letting me have that childhood experience.

Sure, sometimes I wonder if it's right that an old white man steal my thunder and take credit for my hard earned money and gifts, but you know what? I have no problem with that. Someday, when they're older, they'll understand the sacrifices I've made for them. She'll have plenty of time to thank me later.

Now I just have to hope all of the families with different views about Santa stories don't ruin the fun for us. I guess you can't blame kids for sharing what they know. Lord knows kids have word vomit and no filter. But it would be nice if my children could experience some of the magic I felt around the holiday and I can feel like a kid again.

Does Santa visit your house?

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