*Warning to children and Santa lovers, do not read.
“We will never know if Santa is real or a hoax unless we stop delivering toys for him and see if he picks up the slack.” – Dr. Joseph Pernell, psychologist
I was 23 years old before I received my last gift from Santa, a rare British-edition J.K. Rowling book. It was long past the notion of sugar plums and jelly-filled bellies being anything other than a fairytale. However, I was the oldest and my mother had wanted to make sure we no longer believed. If there had been any chance, even the I’m-lying-to-fit-in-but-deep-down-believe slightest chance. She didn’t want to be the one to ruin it. But at 23, Santa had been outed years before.
I first found that Old Saint Nick worked through pants-on-fire parents somewhere in grade school. There’d been rumors at school, and to be sure, I put a candy cane on Santa’s annual plate of cookies, then counted the remaining ones for good measure.
My father doesn’t care for sweets, and my mother would be too sensible to eat candy just before bed – had the cane been eaten, it would have been because Santa himself ate it. Christmas morning, before we opened our gifts, I found eight candy canes hanging from their sequined jar, one more than the night before. That’s how I found out Santa wasn’t real.
Mythical Creature Conspiracy
To combat any whines for gold-laced Gameboys or real diamond necklaces, my parents always said Santa was strictly non-profit. “We have to reimburse him for whatever you get.” Genius. It explained why Santa could bring the rich kids stacks of crap, and why his methods were different for each house he visited. If I came back from a friend’s proclaiming “Sarah said Santa wraps her presents,” or “The Johnson kids get two Santa presents,” it was because they’d asked it to be so. “Sarah’s parents mailed Santa that paper. They also remembered to send return shipping; we never do.” Or “The Johnsons have the equal or lesser value deal. If one present is under budget, he can add a second, so long as it evens out.”
My parents, like skilled lawyers, had an answer for everything. The Tooth Fairy also required reimbursement, while the Easter Bunny had to be commissioned for egg hiding, only Easter basket gifts came standard. They preferred hiding the eggs themselves, an addendum that was explained while caught in the act.
But what trumped all was that none of these magnificent legends showed up unless my siblings and I were asleep. Actually asleep, not a half-ass job
They made it seem as though there was an intricate communication system. Informational postcards were received at their place of business, and holiday packages were decided upon and ordered in advance. Upgrades were also a real nightmare; it was better to stay put.
The Dishonesty Continues
I was also told that cars don’t operate when seatbelts unbuckle, and later in life, “It would ruin my whole trip if you died,” by my loving mother.
Restaurants don’t serve loud customers. Public bathroom doors don’t open by dirty hands. My voice, like a scientific miracle, is unheard when whining. And one overused scenario that was not a lie, two of my overly rambunctious dogs, Micky and Tobey, have gone to live at a nice farm. It’s true; I have visited them. (As for the lazy, non-barking and favorite dog, Molly, her we got to keep.)
When I have children, I will undoubtedly lead them astray, just as generations before me have done. Because as long as children exist they will continue to be lied to; they are gullible, excite too easily, and fall right into parents’ sugar-bribing untruths. But unlike childhood me, I hope that when I tell my kids they are allergic to 10 gummy bears, but not eight, or when I state my fear of drum playing, I hope they look me in the eyes and say, “Mom, you’re lying.”