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I Believed in Santa Claus
Friday, December 24, 2021
Santa Claus throughout my history had been a significant presence as well as a disappointing figure for me. He was the first figure in my life where I realized that I had been had. My mother told me stories that she heard Santa around the household or saw him fly over our house the night before Christmas. I believed her because she didn’t overdo it with the description. She was neither excited nor shocked to see Santa in the neighborhood. On the other hand, I still remember waiting for the appearance of Santa and not being able to sleep that night. One can’t over-estimate the importance of a Christmas morning for a child. It was the one day where everything seemed right with the world.
My earliest memory of Christmas was waiting for my dad to wake up. Of course, I wanted to tear into the packages as soon as possible - but my dad always seemed to oversleep that particular date of the year. I’m now convinced it was a mild form of torture of some sort. As he slept that morning, I did nothing but look under the Christmas tree, trying to send ESP messages somehow for him to wake up. I even remember going into the bedroom and sitting on the floor to see the first sign of eye movement on his part. Nothing. He was genuinely asleep. How is that possible, that it is Christmas, and for whatever reason, he’s still asleep? That didn’t make sense to me as a child, and I have to admit it still bothers me 50 years later.
Over the years, I realized that Santa brought me toys or gifts that were not like the other toys my parents or grandparents had bought me. Through my dad and mom, It was usually something I asked for or toys my parents knew I would want or were interested in having. The Santa gifts were generic; in fact, they could be a gift for anyone or from anyone. I have no memory of making a list of things I wanted for Christmas. Concerning my parents, it probably took them a while to figure out what I wanted. To this day, I’m very touched by the quality of the presents that came upon me through my parents. I had a mixture of passive items, like a board game, but then they would offer me gifts like a globe of the world or a camera. I also remember getting an electric guitar and an amp, but that was through my grandparents. Nevertheless, I do not recall receiving a present I didn’t like.
The Christmas of 1965 stands out because that was the Christmas where I remember every present. A “Man From U.N.C.L.E." set with a toy machine gun, membership card, and I think a badge. Also, from Dean Stockwell, I received the albums Rolling Stones’ “Out of Our Heads, ” “Herman Hermits on Tour, ” and The Animals “Animalism.” I remember those presents because a mudslide destroyed our house three or four days after Christmas. Not only that I lose those presents, but I also lost all my clothing, furniture, and documents that proved that I existed in this world. It was the first time that I realized that objects that I own could be destroyed or taken away from me. It had a profound effect on me concerning possessing things. And though I can remember what my parents got me that Christmas, I have no memory of what Santa brought me.
Nevertheless, it is best not to be bitter after all these years, and that wasn’t exactly the worst thing that happened regarding the issue of Santa Claus. When I was in school, a fellow student yelled out that Santa didn’t exist in a schoolroom. At the time, this struck me as being absurd. Of course, Santa exists because he was seen in our neighborhood and hand-delivering my presents for the last ten or eleven years. But by that afternoon, I realized that something was up. Now come to think of it, Santa’s handwriting (he always left a card with his gift) seemed to resemble my mom’s handwriting. That was the moment when I realized that Santa didn’t exist. Once my fellow student popped the Santa balloon, common sense kicked in. I didn’t feel precisely wrong, but my world was altered in the mind that Santa was the only figure I believed in. I never had a belief in God, angels, ghosts, spirits, or, to be honest, Jesus. But I did have faith in Santa Claus. Losing our home in such a brutal manner and realizing that Santa didn’t exist changed me from being a boy to becoming a teenager. It was the long tunnel that I had to enter, and I did enter, and I came out at the end of the tunnel.