Tuesday, November 27, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 27 (The Fat Man)

little girl sticking out of large Santa bag
Looking for the last of the presents.
It was all Jimmy's fault. It was December 1978, and I was in the second grade. He spoke with authority, but by that time Jimmy was a couple of years into a twelve-year career of copying off me at school, so I wasn't sure whether he was either knowledgable or trustworthy. I chose to remain unsure about the whole thing.

But then I snooped. Under the guest room bed, I found several items obviously intended for me, the only child in our extended family. There was at least a tennis racquet and a Monopoly game; those two items I can see clearly in my mind. On Christmas morning, I found a tennis racquet and a Monopoly game under the tree. From Santa.

The jig was up. I'd seen it coming, but it was still such a letdown.

I don't recall ever discussing it with my parents. I don't remember telling them that I knew the sad, disappointing truth. In my memory, I played along for years. I told myself that it was for my grandparents' benefit. My grandmother was and is a true fan of Christmas, and I didn't want to ruin the joy and fun by letting her know I was in on the secret. In reality, I think it was mostly for me. I loved to believe, and so I sort of did, even though I knew better. I still do, at least a little.

I love the whole idea--a dear, jolly man who brings gifts and spreads the Christmas spirit. I love the elves and the reindeer. I love Twas the Night Before Christmas. I love cookies and milk left out on Christmas Eve. I love full stockings. I love the anticipation. I love the excitement.

It's December 2012, and I have a third grader and a kindergartner. For the last couple years, we have wistfully remarked that this might be the last "real Christmas." The last one where they both believe. My eldest is a smart, curious child, full of questions and critical thinking. I can't believe we've gotten this far. He's also a creative, imaginative child, who wants to believe in magic and the fantastical, and that's why I think we have. I'll bet that there's a little part of him that doubts, but that most of him wants to believe. Please, let us have one more Christmas of the anticipation, the excitement, the milk and cookies.

I have gotten a few questions. I always answer that "I believe," and I don't think that's a lie. A little part of me still does. Santa is the joy, the feeling of love, the spirit of giving, the special sparkle on the month of December. I am immensely grateful that we've had so many "real Christmases," and I hope that once they are in on the secret, we can continue to believe together. To expect that magical and wondrous things can happen. That reindeer can fly. That a fat man in a red suit will fly around the world, delivering gifts to children everywhere. That, once a year, everyone is blessed with abundance and joy.

Yes, I believe.


7 comments:

  1. I love this. I often wonder when our second-grader is going to figure it out. He has mentioned that some friends (with older siblings) have said there's no Santa. He believes, though. At least for now. It's magical.

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    1. I know that the "true meaning of Christmas" is a religious one, but I have conflicted feelings about so much of religion that I think I attach some of what others feel about the religious holiday onto Santa. It's a large burden for a guy to bear, but he seems ok with it so far. Here's to believing in whatever works for you and yours.

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  2. Great post....my daughter is 11 and still believes..or at least puts on a show for her parents :) However, we have to make sure she knows the truth before next year. She will be in 7th grade and our 1st graders write letters to Santa. Those letters are answered by the 7th grade students. So this really is our last "real" Christmas (sniff).

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    1. I'm guessing she's playing along, but good for her (and you). If we can reach a point where my eldest and I share a wink and nod, but don't need to discuss it, that will be the best solution for me. I want each of my kids to enjoy it as long as possible, so when he gets there, he'd better not ruin it for his little sister.

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  3. Cynthia: I can remember the year I discovered that Santa wasn't for real. I was so upset. I told my Mom that she had lied to me. Unfortunately, I made everyone's Christmas that year not very pleasant. Today I regret that. Keep on believing!!!

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  4. Aww, I love this! We have such similar sentiments, don't we? I think life is so much bigger and grander when we believe in things we can't see -- no matter how they manifest themselves. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I'm so grateful we found each other! :)

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  5. My 6 year old is asking a lot of questions, but so far he still believes. He cant seem to figure out how Santa delivered gifts to Grandma's house (where we spend Christmas), and our house too, which is on another coast. Even my bigger guy was pondering that! His 13 year old brother "plays along" even tracking Santa on his Ipod on Christmas eve so the little one could follow his route. Hope I get a few more "real christmases too!

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