I am about to open a fat can of worms. There’s no way around it. We don’t need this to get messy. But we’re going to get real for a few minutes.
Are you one of those moms who drags her kids down to the mall for a Santa photo? Santas worry me like circus clowns worry me. At least a mime has the sense to keep his mouth shut, and they are plenty creepy.
Every kid worth his salt will take one look at Santa and see a phony. What normal adult dresses up like that and expects to be taken seriously? What crazy mom tells her kid to go sit on a total stranger’s lap and tell him secrets? Who does that?
I only attempted two Santa photos back when I was a young lemming mommy, and my rational kids were screaming bloody murder at the whole nonsense.
But I never ‘did’ Santa. I never did the Easter Bunny. I never did leprechauns. The Tooth Fairy was always a day late and a dollar short.
Don’t lie to your kids. They will tell themselves lies later all on their own (“Mom said to eat the cookies…I’m pretty sure I heard her say that.”).
So while my mommy friends were on the roof at midnight, ringing sleigh bells and leaving hoof prints, my kids knew it was all just a fun game that parents played and they got ‘Santa’ presents all the same. They swore not to tell their friends, and I got a good night’s sleep.
Lest your holiday cheer is wilting like a June snowman, you need to understand…like the infamous Grinch, I too have a tragic back story.
Remember my tiny childhood home? Next door lived a dyed-in-the-wool catholic family with three little girls. The oldest daughter was my age, 9, and got threatened regularly with Satan when she was naughty.
If Lorraine’s mama said Satan was in her bottom dresser drawer ready to snatch her, then he was.
I was being raised believing in only one God, which meant there couldn’t be one anywhere else. Satan was a figment of a grumpy and misguided imagination.
Lorraine and I were never what you would call ‘friends’. We were quite opinionated ‘frenemies’.
So I pulled that dresser to pieces looking for the guy with the pitchfork. We never did find him.
She insisted: just because we can’t find the guy doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.
And she waited for her moment of revenge.
One Christmas morning, we woke up to sunshine and a few frugal gifts which we enjoyed. Passing a window, I noticed something; a shiny new swing set was sitting in the backyard and with whoops of delight, we raced out to play.
Lorraine and her sisters were watching through the fence.
“Look!” I cried, “Santa brought us a swing set!”
“No he didn’t,” she said smugly, “your dad built it.”
“There’s no way he could have!” I retorted. My spy system was pretty good, and there had been zero hints that this possibility was in the works.
“I sat up last night and watched him do it,” insisted Lorraine, “There is no Santa Clause.”
I stopped swinging.
My frown of anger, doubt and possible betrayal began to grow as I marched back into the house.
My mother’s guilty face, however, told me immediately that “Santa” used the same wrapping paper that she did (a detail I had been overlooking until today) and furthermore, while quite easy to locate (one on every corner in December…well, technically in November too in progressive malls) he was also a figment of a cheerful and misguided imagination.
Can you blame me if I never invited her over for a swing on the set?
Just because there is no Santa doesn’t mean his gifts disappear.