SPOILER ALERT – this post has information regarding about Santa Claus – continue at your own risk.
T’was a week before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a….
No, just me, stealthily snooping through the house to find my Christmas presents while my mom was outside. Check under the stairs in the back–check in the closet–the attic–under the bed–the locked chest in front of the bed…jimmy the lock…BINGO.I found them. There were all sorts of goodies in the chest, and I specifically recall these elongated bendy people that you can twist all around. I played with them for a moment and then admired the rest of the chest’s contents. I put everything back how I found it and shut the lid. As I walked away I remember thinking, “I can’t wait to get these for Christmas”.Flash forward a week and we are running down the stairs after getting the go ahead from mom that Christmas has officially started. We raced to the living room fireplace to grab our stockings down. As I went to grab mine, I noticed a very bendy person sticking out of the top – my brother had one too. This cold feeling washed over me as I tried to reconcile a thought that I had honestly never thought before, “if these toys are in my stocking, the same toys I found in my mother’s room, and the stockings are from Santa…”
I was nine. Now, I don’t actually know if I was truly nine as that is my go to age for all things “my childhood”. When did you find out about Santa? Nine. When did you go to Disney World? Nine. When did you learn about sex? Nine.I don’t remember much about that morning other than a feeling that I had done something super wrong; that I had somehow ruined something; that I discovered a secret and was likely in big trouble.
What I do remember was standing on the staircase landing asking my grandma to come here and then whispering to her that I had found the presents in my stocking in mom’s room. I don’t remember forming the thought “Santa isn’t real”. I remember feeling awful and ashamed and fearful that if my mom found out she would be angry with me. I think my grandma laughed. I think she called over my mama and I think she was super nice and explained “The Great Childhood Lie”.
I also remember finding out around the same time the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc. were all also not real. I don’t remember if I asked my grandma or if my mom told me. Either way, I found out a great many things weren’t “real” that day.
I don’t remember feeling angry or lied to by my parents. The next year, and every year after that, I got to take part in creating the magic of Christmas for my younger siblings, not just experiencing it for myself. They let me stay up late and put all the presents out. They let me stuff the stockings and lay them out by the fireplace. Sometimes I even switched out candy from my siblings if I liked theirs more.
Christmas was still special and magical – perhaps a little less so, or just magical in a different way. There is childhood magic like actually believing a man comes down the Chimney and leaves you presents. There is also real magic like being that mysterious Santa figure, actually being the magic for someone else. We get to participate in such a beautiful thing, in creating magic.