Monday, December 19, 2011

How long did you believe in Santa?

Around the Thanksgiving table this year, my family shared one of my favorite family memories with B. I was surprised that I had never told him about it before, but after being together for nearly five years, I guess it's a good thing we haven't run out of stories yet. My mom asked us whether we were going to have a photo of Mia with Santa this year. I told her that yes, otherwise, we wouldn't have anything to show her later on (you know, when she's actually concious of Christmas) when we get to do the whole Santa thing with her.

Different families have different traditions when it comes to Santa Claus. My family did the whole putting a letter in the mail, and then setting out milk and cookies. We didn't have any fireplaces (it's not often that apartments in the tropics come with a fireplace...), so my parents told us that he came in through the window. B's parents told him that Santa had magic keys (which apparently led to a few moments of being locked out and B exclaiming that it would be pretty useful to have some of Santa's magic keys, adorbs).

I believed in Santa Claus until the uncommonly advanced age of 12. Yup, double digits, people. And, I had a perfectly good reason to continue believing until I was that age. And of course, I've got my parents to blame (or thank) for the embarassment and teasing I had to endure in 4th, 5th and up to 6th grade, when I finally gave up. People would try to reason with me: "How do you explain it? It just can't work", and I'd simply reply: "Whatever. If you don't believe, that's fine, but I saw him. He exists".

When I was in 3rd grade, apparently, my parents observed that I was starting to have my doubts. 7 is the age of reason, after all. So, I was starting to reason this whole Santa thing out. I think most parents may admit it to their children, and then ask nicely that they not spoil the fun for their younger siblings. But no, not my parents. Instead, they got together with one of my Dad's co-workers (who is Dominican and dark skinned, by the way) and each dress up as Santa very early on Christmas morning, and each make an appearance at the other person's house. Of course!

On Christmas morning, very early, I was awoken by my mother saying: "Frenchie, wake up! Look who is here!". My very nearsighted eyes laid upon a blurry vision of a big man in a red suit standing next to my father. I couldn't see his facial features, couldn't see the beard in any kind of detail. He said something about running late, but he was glad he made it in time, and that he hoped we enjoyed the presents. I, stunned and in a daze, thanked him and he was on his way. My parents told me many years later, that this man also had a strong accent, and that they had made sure that my Dad was also in the room, so that I couldn't jump to the conclusion that it was my father in the Santa suit.

So, for the next few years, I was perfectly contented with this image of a blurry Dominican Santa Claus in my head. I firmly believed that this was the real Santa Claus, and I held on despite all evidence to the contrary, and all contrary arguments from my friends, who had much less imaginative and scheming parents. I made all sorts of rationalizations in my mind. No, those weren't all Santa in the malls, those were just people who worked for him. No, he didn't personally make all the deliveries on Christmas Eve, he couldn't move that fast. He had multiple sleighs, and his helpers could do deliveries too. Plus, with all the time differences, there was plenty of time for him and his helpers to get to everyone. My brother, being all of 3 or 4 years old, has no memory of this happening, so he suffered much less humiliation.

We're totally doing this to Mia. Can't wait! Until then, Santa is coming to our apartment complex on Thursday, so pictures will be taken.

This post inspired by the question at A cup of Jo.

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