Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Christmas coming-of-age story

I ran across a meme while blog-hopping yesterday. I’m not big into memes, but one of the questions was intriguing: How did you find out the truth about Santa Claus? Here’s how it worked out with me:

Santa made his annual pre-Christmas visit to our small town every year right after Thanksgiving. And every year, my brother, sister and I would give the big guy his marching orders. Afterward, my mother would pump us for what we told Mr. Nick and take careful note of our wish list items. On Christmas morning, our order would be there under the Christmas tree, just as we had specified. What a guy!

About the time I turned seven, logical thinking began to creep in and I began to grow suspicious of the whole gig. We didn’t have a chimney, so how did Santa get in our house? How did he make name-brand toys in his North Pole workshop? Heck, how did he manage to make everything that every kid in our town asked for between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve? And why was mom always so interested in what we told Santa?

So I devised a test in my seven-year-old brain. That year, I gave Santa my list of things I wanted. When my mom asked what I had told Santa, I declined to tell her, citing a confidentiality agreement between myself and Mr. Claus. She shrugged and left it at that.

On Christmas morning, nothing I had asked Santa for was under the tree. Red flags went up all over. I told my brother and sister about Santa’s failure to come through. They suggested a mixup may have occurred somewhere in the order fulfillment department at the Pole. Now that seemed reasonable to me. Santa did have an awful lot of things to remember. It also seemed pretty cool to me that somewhere in the world, a boy was scratching his head, wondering why he got my stuff instead of his.

The next year, the suspicions returned and I devised the ultimate test. I would stay up all night Christmas Eve if I had to, and confront the big guy for an explanation of last year’s mix-up. Santa never showed, but around one in the morning, my mom and dad passed by my room with large shopping bags full of stuff on their way to the living room. Clue phone's ringing. Moment of truth on line one.

I could have been devastated. I could have ratted them out. I could have revealed the bitter truth to my younger siblings. Nah. I went back to sleep after deciding to milk the thing with my parents for another year or two.

Photo: Christmas dock, Door County, Wisconsin. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.


Sheila said...

I was about six when snooping around in my mom's closet, I found the doll I had been dying to get and some other presents. My mom found out that I had seen the stash and was so hurt. My younger son believed in Santa Claus so long that my husband and I foolishly told him one year what was up with the Santa thing. Our reasoning was that he was so old that kids would make fun of him for believing. Instead he was absolutely crushed and devasted that we told him.

James said...

I had stumbled onto a stash in the closet a couple of years earlier, and in spite of my mom's panicked response, I never made the connection. Santa's cover was still safe.