Christmas was magic when I was a child. Like the Christmas version of a Lifetime movie. Storybook-level magic. I wouldn’t have believed it was real-life if I hadn’t lived it.
My parents were amazing and beyond generous. Christmas morning was a dream. I still vividly remember the one where the Barbie Dream House was waiting for me. I may have cried with joy.
My mom is pretty much Martha Stewart. At the peak of her Martha-Stewart-ness, I think we had 8 Christmas trees of varying shapes and sizes around our house. Not to mention all of the other decorations… inside and outside. We probably could have opened to the public and charged admission. But not in a tacky overdone way. It was all beautiful and elegant while still being festive and fun. Swags and lights and wreaths and little Santas and snowmen and reindeer… but nothing flashy or blinding. Beautiful.
My dad used to put on his Santa costume after we went to sleep. He wore it until he went to bed so he’d be ready to walk quietly around the main Christmas tree if he heard my sisters or me wake up and get out of bed to peek downstairs. I think I was 4 or 5 the year I saw him. I snuck out of bed and tiptoed to the top of the staircase. I squatted down low… lower… until I could see presents under the tree. Santa’s been here!
And then I saw red pants… white fur… black boots. Santa’s still here!
Knowing I would be immediately transferred to the naughty list if Santa caught me out of bed so late [assuming I started out on the nice list, of course], I hurried back to my room and hid under the covers. I was too excited to sleep at first, but I finally conked out. I never told anyone I saw Santa [naughty list fears]. But when I hurried downstairs in the morning, I knew it was real. All that was left on the fireplace was an empty glass and a plate of cookie crumbs. And the carrots were gone.
Magic. I wish I could have bottled it… because it didn’t last and I’d love to feel that kind of hope and joy now… today… tomorrow… whenever I want.
I will never forget my first Santa-less Christmas.
I was only 6 years old. Oh, I believed. Rankin/Bass ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town’ was my bible.
A few weeks before the big day, I sat at our kitchen table to write my letter to Santa. My eldest sister, then 10 years old, sat across from me. I offered her paper and a crayon to write her own letter but she said no. Then she broke my heart.
You don’t have to write that, you know. But if you do, just give it to Mom and Dad. I was confused. And she explained. Because she is an enormous bitch. You know Santa’s not real, right?
I didn’t believe her. I ran out of the kitchen crying and screaming for my mom. The bitch thought this was funny. Mom hugged me and tried to make me feel better. She did all the right Mom things. But I was a smart kid. Some of the things I knew about Santa were pretty far-fetched. I was always a bit suspicious of the flying reindeer. And the logistics.
I tried desperately to force myself to keep believing, but I knew. I was devastated. I was only 6 years old and the magic was ripped out of my heart. That bitch.
It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed Christmas since then because I have. But it was definitely never the same. I could have had a few more years with the hope, the joy, the belief, the magic. But B [we’ll call that sister B because, you know, bitch] ruined it. I have never truly understood why she was so cruel to me [oh, her cruelty never ended… more on this later…]. Maybe it was because she didn’t believe anymore – if she had to live without the magic, so did everyone else. Because bitch. And you bet your ass I stopped her from squashing my younger sister’s magic Christmases! My little sister J was only 3 – she hadn’t even been alive long enough to fully enjoy the magic.
I continued acting with pure, excited Santa-belief until J was 9, I think. She came to me and told me she heard things at school. She knew. I confessed. And I know she loved me for letting her – helping her – believe as long as possible.
My kids both still believe… as far as I know. I’m fairly certain about my daughter , but less sure about my son . He is definitely suspicious, but he has not said anything definitive. He is so like me, though. He looks for logical or scientific explanations for everything. But until he comes to me explaining how he has figured out that Santa is impossible, I won’t volunteer any sort of confirmation either way. But I dread the impending inquiries from him as well as my daughter. I don’t want to take the magic away. I don’t want to break their hearts. But… at least they have both enjoyed the magic of Santa Claus longer than my bitch sister let me enjoy it.
I hope some small part of that magic stays with them forever.