I chose this Santa Claus with the pipe because my dad was a smoker. And in some ways my dad was Santa Claus. My mom was too but she didn’t smoke but she also doesn’t have a beard. So you see where I’m going with this.
Anyway, I loved believing in Santa Claus as a child. I know now it’s pretty hard to get kids to believe in anything because of the internet and general apathy or parents saying it’s lying to your kids to teach them about Santa Claus (They’re kids! this is the best time to lie to them before the cruel world slaps em in the face with reality and they have nothing but dull memories to share with their therapist at the age of 28 when they suffer their first nervous breakdown. )
Sure, it’s lying. But it’s one of the best lies I’ve ever experience in my life.
Viva the Santa Claus lie (or undeniable truth if you are a kid reading this. And if you are a kid reading this you’re not getting anything for Christmas if you read past this point. You’ve been warned).
Because my parents were the best liars when it came down to it. And I salute them. Those lies made up some of the greatest experiences of my childhood and still to this day bring up such memories of warmth, laughter and comradery between me and my siblings that Christmas remains my favorite time of year. It loses its glitz and glamour in adulthood but those childhood memories remind me of what it means to those so much younger and what I can do to make someone else have a special Christmas.
Because to me there was simply no more special time of the year. There was nothing more exciting than the prospect that my good behaviors would be rewarded by a fat man in a sleigh with his reindeer. And mind you I was an especially inquisitive little child with questions for days and the nature of rebellion in me like all children. But my mother was and still is a brilliant woman and she managed to keep the lies straight and believable.
And what she lacked in fancy my father made up in scaring the crap out of us. This is all to preface my own version of the Santa Claus myth.
For you see as I understand it every child has their own Santa Claus in their head that is created by the mixture of popular media and whatever their parents happen to tell them.
First of all my Santa Claus is white.
Now my mother wanted me to believe he was black (my father really could care less) but I saw a picture of a black Santa Claus and quite frankly the beard and red suit combo just didn’t compliment his skin tone. So my Santa was white and it didn’t matter what my mother told me. He was white. No black man would live at the North Pole in my opinion so she was just trying to be polite is the only thing I could figure.
He always got my letters, which I wrote in crayon because I wanted to portray an immaturity and innocence when I wrote them (yes as a child I considered such things). The letters always bordered on the outlandish (at one point I asked him to kill the character Carly off of General Hospital for me because I detested her so much) as I took time to make wishes about world matters or politics even as a child.
I wrote on behalf of the starving people in Somalia when I was pretty young because the idea of being hungry has always been scary to me for some reason though I never experienced it. But I always asked for my toys. Barbie, video games and movies always topped my little Christmas list.
According to my mother, the letter had to be mailed before Thanksgiving but we gave them to her. I learned to address envelopes in the first grade so I had some issues with only writing Santa at the North Pole with no Zip code or street number on it. But my mother informed me there was really only one Santa and with the volume of mail he got he didn’t really need the rest of the info on the envelope. Sounded good to me
My Santa Claus didn’t leave coal in your stocking. You just didn’t get shit if you were bad.
Pretty straight forward. Now I often questioned this theory because my younger brother Geroid to me was the personification of evil. If I was Lisa Simpson (and surely I was) then he was definitely Bart (with our birth order reversed) and I couldn’t imagine how Santa was seeing all of his bad behavior and rewarding him. I thought at first the presents were out of pity but as I got older I suspected that Santa’s requirements for getting on the naughty list were a little lenient. Shooting my Barbie dolls in my Fold N Fun House with a BB Gun didn’t land him on there. Perhaps you had to maim animals or sell drugs?
Secondly, Santa must see you in the mall after you’ve sent your letters and proven you are good.
This is a necessary formality in order to prove to him that you actually really believe in him. Even though after a while you realize these are only his helper Santas and not the real Santa who is far too busy and important to have you sitting on his lap taking overpriced pictures with him, you must go. It occurs to me now that my parents were only using this as a way to keep track of us photographically one Christmas after the next but back then it seemed to me as though seeing him and telling him what you wanted again after you wrote the letter was just completely necessary. To this day I will go and see him just to be safe and sure.
Thirdly, I don’t know about you, but I was an especially good kid because Santa came to my house personally.
Now I was sure this was the real Santa and not the crappy mall Santa all the other kids who weren’t as special as I am got to see. I’m pretty sure he came mainly for me though and that my siblings only got to see him by default. He gave us early Christmas presents which were mainly crap that I didn’t really want but I’d play with it up til Christmas just to show him I wasn’t an ungrateful child. He entertained us for a while and then left.
Now this was the first time where I really almost lost my belief at a young age. I remember dashing up the stairs after he left heading to my bedroom window waiting for him to take flight in his sleigh…only to see him get in a Pontiac Grand Am bright red and drive away. My mother was right behind me and I remember looking at her and saying in total disbelief: “He’s not in a sleigh!” and my mother telling me “O Alexis he doesn’t just drive a sleigh around except on Christmas Eve!”. It made enough sense to me.
And Christmas was saved.
Fourthly, Santa Claus requires you to be in bed by 10pm. If you’re not asleep at midnight then you won’t get anything. Before bed you must prepare him a snack because he is going to be very busy and hungry all trip. Cookies and milk is what he likes.
Until I was 18 I left cookies and milk out for Santa out of habit. I still when I go to sleep on Christmas Eve feel as though something magical shall transpire while I slumber. I do remember one Christmas waking up quite cranky to find that Santa had only drank half of my milk. I complained as I opened my presents about what an ungrateful old man Santa was and my dad said quite snippily “Well, you’re not the only little girl in the world whose milk he has to drink!”. My dad was the one eating the cookies and drinking part of the milk. My dad is lactose intolerant so he took it quite personally that I was so judgmental of Santa’s milk consumption!
Speaking of my father, the fifth thing was the most frightening thing of all that haunted me as a child for the longest time and hilariously it is the part of the myth I simply can’t WAIT to share with my children: My dad always told us that if we stayed awake or got up too soon and Santa Claus saw us peeping at him he’d blind us by blowing soot in our eyes.
I suspect he only thought it was a harmless joke. But it scared the crap out of me and my brothers and sister.
I would wake up Christmas morning in terrors. It was still dark, perhaps 6am and was he downstairs still? I couldn’t go and look! I couldn’t! He’d blind me for sure. So I’d get up and wake my sister up and then we’d go in our brothers’ room and sit and look at each other terrified. Should we go downstairs? Could he blind us all at once? Should we wake our parents up? Would he blind them too?!
I always imagined it the same way. I’d creep down the stairs thinking it was safe and there he’d be standing with his red coat on rifling through his bag. I’d open my mouth but no scream would escape so then I’d turn to run back up the stairs but he’d see me.
He’d know I saw him. And he’d open his gloved hand and blown the black chimney soot and no matter how far away from him I was it would get in my eyes and I wouldn’t be able to see. I’d be blind forever and all because I got up too early on Christmas. And can soot blinded kids play with their Christmas presents or does he take them away? I never was sure. All I knew is I did NOT want to be blinded on Christmas at any cost! And it was easily one of my worst fears!
Eventually the sun would rise or our parents would tell us we could go downstairs and each step down was terrifying until we reached the tree and realized that evil, evil Santa Claus wouldn’t be blinding us this year.
Now one year my brother Geroid lied and said that he got soot blown in his eye and that he had seen Santa Claus. He still didn’t end up on the naughty list. I’d really like to know what were the requirements to get on that damn list?
So there you have it!
My Santa was an old white man in a red coat and hat who lived at the North Pole but drove a Red Pontiac Grand Am in the off season, had a several step process to apply for and receive gifts like a bureaucrat which included a visit to one of his mall agents, he never drank all of the milk ,he would blind you if you looked at what he was doing on Christmas Eve, and he never really put anyone on the naughty list anyway.
Those are the things I remember about my childhood Christmases. I remember some of the more notable gifts I got but those are the memories that stand out the most. And I’m often in awe every year as an adult at how much thought and time my parents put in to making our Christmases so truly wonderful and allowing us to believe it was someone else who was doing it…what wonderful people. Childhood is a magical time in our lives where truly anything is possible and the world is filled with unexplained and blissfully imaginative wonders. It’s what makes Christmas truly magical outside of the religious implications. I wouldn’t trade in any of those memories for anything and I hope that if the Lord is to bless me with children I will be able to recreate some of those wonderful memories.
And perhaps my kids will have a similar Santa Claus in their lives. But he won’t drive a Pontiac Grand Am since they don’t make those anymore.
Well, you get the idea.