When I was 13, Santa visited my house. My younger brother was still in elementary school, but I was in junior high. I must have convinced my brother that we should write letters to Santa, even though we knew that the role of Santa belonged more to my parents than a jolly old fellow in the North Pole. We left the letters to Santa on the pillows of my parent’s bed. Then, we waited.
Christmas morning rolled around and we discovered two carefully placed presents by our fireplace in the family room. Our Christmas tree was in the living room in the front of the house and we asked my parents why Santa didn’t leave the presents under the tree. I don’t recall a response from them, but looking back, it was all practicality. Santa is a busy man and if he has to shimmy down zillions of chimneys, why would he waste time walking all the way over to living room? Leaving it front of the fireplace made a lot of sense. Of course, because we were old, we noticed that that the label was in my mom’s distinctive cursive. Nevertheless, we opened the gifts with delight. My brother got a skateboard and I cannot remember what I got or what I had asked for.
In fact, I don’t remember presents and gift giving being that big of an event as a child. Santa Claus sometimes visited our house (he never ate our cookies for some reason and the carrot for the reindeer was always untouched also) and sometimes not, but I don’t recall being disappointed when he didn’t leave a present. My parents weren’t consistent about Santa and we didn’t go take pictures with him at the mall. We didn’t really talk about him.
When Ninja and I had Ninjette, we didn’t really contemplate the idea of Santa. As she got a little older, we just didn’t mention Santa intentionally and Santa never left presents for her. She knew what Santa looked like and one time, we ran into him at a restaurant. We read Christmas stories with Santa and watched Christmas movies with Santa, but he just wasn’t a part of Christmas.
UNTIL THIS YEAR.
Maybe it’s because of kindergarten. Maybe it’s because she’s been talking to her friends and we haven’t said much on it. Maybe she’s pulling a fast one on us. Maybe she’s doing it because she thinks it’s part of our job being parents.
Whatever the case may be, there was a surge of interest in Santa. Suddenly, I was getting peppered with Santa questions all the time.
“We don’t have a chimney, how will Santa get in to our house?”
“Is Santa going to know that I’m not going to be at home, but at Grandma & Grandpa’s house?”
“Do you think Santa will leave my present at our house or at Grandma & Grandpa’s house?”
“What are the names of all the reindeer?”
“Should we leave Santa cookies? Even if we’re not going to be here?”
“Does Santa just rest for the whole year and then just work one night?”
“When can I visit Santa?”
“How do I get to the North Pole?”
So, this year, I got my role of a lifetime – Santa. I tried to be as vague as possible on all the answers to her questions. We told her that Santa would probably leave the present at our house and that Santa can’t eat all the cookies that are left out for him because that would just slow him down during the night. We also told her that Santa is busy all the time because he has to cover a lot of ground and it’s hard to keep an eye on all the children in the world, even with elves helping him. Luckily for us, she did not ask for anything specific, but just said that Santa could surprise her.
Like any good Santa, I ordered all my gifts on Amazon and hid them in all sorts of places. Sometimes, hiding them in plain sight. Then, I carefully wrapped them and placed them under the tree, but a little out of sight. I even left the roll of wrapping paper out to explain away why Santa used the same wrapping paper that we had for our other non-Santa presents. I put a nice little note on it and signed it as Santa, trying not to leave any handwriting clues. (If this Santa thing persists, I’m typing next year’s note.)
I don’t know if I will win an Academy for my role as Santa this year, but I do hope that I can keep a little imagination and magic alive for my 5 year old. It’s a role that I didn’t think I would play, but sometimes the best gifts are the unexpected ones.
Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Season’s Greetings. Whatever you may celebrate, I hope you will be sprinkled in love and laughter.