It’s still a vivid memory the day I discovered … What? There’s no Santa?
I was 7 years old and it was Thanksgiving Day. For our family, turkey day was a big deal. It was a gathering that included Grandma, Mom, Dad, many aunts and uncles, and lots of kids. For the adults, it meant days of prepping for the highly anticipated feast. For us kids, we celebrated that it was the one day a year when no one seemed to care what we ate. Back then, the whole concept of the “kids table” was genius in our eyes.
Part of our Thanksgiving traditions included a highly competitive game of hide-and-seek, making popcorn over a fire, and watching The Wizard of Oz. It was during a game of hide-and-seek that I first learned that Santa wasn’t the man I thought he was.
With the adults visiting upstairs, the game commenced in our basement. As the “it” began to count, my cousins and siblings scattered in different directions. In my haste to find the perfect hiding spot, I completely forgot that my mother specifically said, “No hiding in the basement cellar.” Of course, there in the cellar I stumbled upon the perfect place to hide. I quickly ducked under a sheet draped over a very large object. As I sat ever-so-quietly under the sheet, my eyes began to adjust to the dim lighting. It was at that moment when I read in big, bold letters: Barbie’s Dream House. I could hardly contain my excitement. Was I actually sitting next to my number one gift request, the coveted Dream House?
Since everyone else followed my mother’s instructions, no one was even looking near the cellar. Therefore, I had ample time to sit and think, “Why in the world would Santa’s elves hide my dollhouse in our cellar?” In true Nancy Drew fashion, I began to put all the pieces together. As the baby of the family, I always wondered why my teenage sisters got to go Christmas shopping with my mom, but I didn’t. And now it made sense as to why my older brother seemed to be ransacking the house every time my parents left. Yep, everyone in my family knew that Santa was really my parents … except me.
My initial reaction didn’t include anger or disappointment. I actually began thinking about the many times that my parents and siblings kept the Santa gig going for my sake. With their stories of seeing hoof prints and hearing noises on the roof, they were actually attempting to preserve the magic of Christmas.
Suddenly I felt this huge responsibility. If I revealed that I knew the truth about Santa, I might take away some of the magic for them. It was then and there that I decided to uphold the magic of Christmas for one more year. Plus, let’s be honest. I really didn’t want to get into trouble for not following directions.
With my decision made, now came the challenge of getting out of the cellar without being caught. As I sat there trying to figure out my predicament, it was like my very own Christmas Angel came down to save the day. Hey, I might have given up on Santa, but I definitely wasn’t going to give up on Clarence (the angel from the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life). All of a sudden, my mom yelled down the stairs, “The Wizard of Oz is on!” And just like that, I could hear the sound of kids’ feet running up the stairs. After waiting for the last of the stairs to rattle, I safely made my escape.
Although it was my last year believing in Santa, I had many more wonderful childhood memories of Christmas. In fact, with this new understanding of the true giving of Christmas, I suddenly moved up in ranks in the family. Not only did my mother start inviting me to go shopping with my sisters, but also my brother made me his official assistant gift finder. While he went through every room looking for his presents, I sat by the window to keep a lookout for our parents.
HO! HO! HO!
What do you remember about the day that you discovered that Santa doesn’t hang at the North Pole with his good buddy, Rudolph?
– Deanna Robb, Director of Beaumont’s Parenting Program