Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Me and santa: a retrospective

The prompt at Writer’s Island for today was to write something about how we embrace this season.

Santa and me go way back. Some years we were thisclose.

Other years not so much.

Here I still believed, but not for much longer.

In December 1976, my family had just moved from Provo, Utah, to nearby Springville. We lived in a small, mouse-infested apartment above a weight station. On Christmas Eve, I was determined to stay up and watch Santa deliver the presents I knew were coming because I had been extra good all year. I waited quietly in bed, feigning sleep until I heard my parents go down for the night and then I snuck out to the living room from the bedroom I shared with my little brother Lee. Crawling on my hands and knees, I slowly backed myself into the gap between our couch and the wall behind it. I was almost completely hidden when I felt something move next to my leg and heard a loud snap. With a shriek I shot out from behind the couch—and then realized I had backed into a mousetrap. I shoved the trap under the couch and resumed my prime position for Santa surveillance. Sadly, I fell asleep before the man in red showed up.

By Christmas 1977, I was a jaded eight year-old chaperone for my nattily suspendered-and-plaid-pantsed brother (clearly still a believer).

Over a decade later, I became even more jaded when my mom took my youngest sister and I for Santa pictures at Northgate Mall in Seattle. I was a college freshman, and she was a year and a half. We camped out in line, sandwiched for what seemed forever between other people's toddlers melting down. At last it was our turn. I sat on Santa’s lap, and Meredith sat on mine. Right before the photographer snapped our picture, nasty old Santa copped a feel. Yeah. I waited for the flash, then shot him a dirty look as I whisked Meredith away as quickly as possible. All I could think was, at least better me than her.

Last year when Jimmy was three, Jim and I had The Santa Talk—you know, the one where we discussed whether we should inflict belief in Santa (and the inevitable emotional trauma at its termination) on our children. It had been long enough since the perverted Santa imposter incident that I didn’t dismiss the idea out of hand. Eventually we decided in favor of a guilt-free Santa Claus, a benevolent Kris Kringle with no naughty-or-nice strings attached.

In the end, I’m glad Jim and I could agree Santa had a certain magic integral to our own childhoods—a miraculous magic of hope, humor, giving, and possibilities—and that we want our kids to have it, too.


keith hillman said...

Are you suggesting that Santa isn't real! Lovely piece - great memories.

Pauline said...

Glad you decided in favor of magic - look what happens when Santa is human!

gautami tripathy said...

You made your post so alive. That perverted Santa should have been kicked!

seasons of eternity

No Cool Story said...

"You sit on a throne of lies!!"

aubrey said...

are you KIDDING me?! he copped a feel. ewwww. dirty santa.

lol at ncs's comment. we just watched that..over and over again with ava.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I enjoyed reading this, the story about the mouse traps made me laugh, though it must have been some shock at the time!

Just Jen said...

I love the first pic, I'd blow that up and frame it! It's so cute!
My youngest never once believed in santa until this year, he's 8, it's still strange that suddenly its real to him. My eldest did until he was about 9. I don't say one way or the other to the kids, I don't talk them into it or out of it...just see what happens...lol

tumblewords said...

A lovely piece - the photos are wonderful and the way you move from year to year and follow the trail is very clever. A super post! Ellensburg? Not so far from here.

chicklegirl said...

Keith--I would NEVER say such a thing; only, that I failed to believe.

Pauline--I think kids need magic (and when mine have it, I have it, too!)

Gautami--Yeah, I think I missed my opportunity to kick him when I could. I was just so revolted I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

NCS--I've never seen that movie but I LMAO at the clip. And promptly added "Elf" to my Netflix queue.

Aubrey--Yeah, he was so gross! So watch Ava like a hawk when she sits with Santa!

Crafty--Oh, it was a shock; I almost peed my pants!

JustJen--It's so funny what kids will believe and when. You just never know. By the way, I really loved what you wrote for the prompt this week. I'm going to be going back and reading more about homeschooling on your blog.

Tumblewords--Thank you! Yes, you aren't far from here. May I ask what part of Idaho you are from?

tumblewords said...

Coeur d'Alene...just down the pike a bit. Used to travel the highway a lot, not so much anymore.