My Yarnagogo sister came to me looking for my childhood “There’s no Santa?” moment while she was writing her post over at Book Club Girl, and it kinda threw me for a bit. I gave her a short answer, but after reading hers and wiping a few tears away, I had to strain my pathetic memory a bit more.
The moment itself wasn’t truly noteworthy. I remember an evil little girl broke the news to me at the tender age of six or seven, with a mean laugh at my naivete. We were living on an island, and there wasn’t much choice when it came to best friends. She was the one other ex-pat kid my own age, so even though she was far wiser in the ways of the world, she was it. I remember playing with the Chamorran kids on the island, wild games of adventure on the high seas (from the safety of a fallen tree), and feeling far more at ease than I ever felt with her, but she and I, we shared a common background. A language of She-ra and My Little Pony and Chicken McNuggets, back before our little island had any of those things.
I knew she was right. It broke my heart, but it just made too much sense. Otherwise why would all three of the Herron girls have gotten American Knitters (the local sweatshop) sweaters from Santa that year? He flew, right? Couldn’t he have just as easily picked up that Castle Grayskull set?
Oddly enough, I was still totally sure that the twiddlebugs I fed every night really had decided they needed to tearfully leave my care, moving away to bring joy to another little girl.
(Sidebar on the awesomeness of my sisters: For months, they created, supported, and enabled a thriving twiddlebug community in our front garden, from the postage-stamp pictures on the wall to the match-stick fences. Every night before I went to bed, I left their little button plates full of grass, and cleaned and straightened their little milk-carton home. Every morning, the grass was gone, the house untidy, and a sweet, teeny-tiny thank you note was left addressed to me. This was quite possibly one of bestest things a big sis has ever done for her little brat of a kid sister.)
For those that don’t know what twiddlebugs are:
Anyway, Santa. Like Rach, I kept my little secret to myself for FOREVER, terrified that if I said anything, that my perfect Christmas morning routine would be ruined. Like many other families, there was a blackout period on Christmas morning. No jumping on the parents’ bed until the sun was actually and fully up. This was painful for me, but the pain was easily dealt with thanks to the fact that I could sneak out, grab my stocking, then jump relatively quietly onto my sister’s bed (and onto my grumbling sister) and compare loot. We’d be good and sugared up by the time the parents actually got up, thanks to the ever-present chocolate coins.
By the time I was 13, the sisters were 20ish and getting very annoyed at my persistent excitement and bed-jumping. I didn’t care. It was still my favorite thing about Christmas, and like it or not, they had to wake up with me at 6:30 so they could admire my new fluffy socks with embroidered witches on them, and trade me a jelly belly box for a licorice allsorts bag.
That year, while I was helping her pull the Opus with reindeer antlers out of the closet along with the various other Christmas decorations, Mom paused and looked thoughtful, her hand on the stockings. “I’ve been so busy, I don’t have a thing for the stockings yet.” Almost instantly, a stricken look came over her face, and she looked at me. We’d never had ‘the talk.’
I kinda nervously giggled. “It’s okay, I know.”
“Oh, well, of course you do.” She paused again, and looked a little sad. “I suppose that means we don’t need them this year.”
“No!” I nearly peed my pants. “I mean, is it okay if we just, you know, pretend?”
Maybe it’s my own slanted view, but I swear she was happy about that. So stockings continued on, and continue on to this day. We helped share the Santa duty after mom got sick, and when she passed away, we only stepped up our game. Last year the stockings were so full they kind of blooped out onto the mantle and the piano. Several were too heavy to hang.
So what’s my moral here? It has nothing to do with writing, that’s for sure. Where Rachael channeled her disappointed imagination into fiction, I channeled mine into a willful denial of my maturity. To this day, I insist that I’m not too old for footy pajamas, city-wide treasure hunts, and creating imaginary worlds and homes for tiny little muppets. I do believe in Santa Claus, I do, I do, I do! And I will until I’m 90, because I strongly prefer to live in that magic world where just about anything is possible.
I’m off to fly to the zoo, folks. Don’t wait up.