Yes Virginia...I Am Santa Claus

A blustery night visiting Santa's mailbox
A blustery night visiting Santa's mailbox

I Was the Perfect Santa

I have always believed in Santa. The magic of Santa. The spirit of St. Nick.

When I was in 1st grade, an age in which the truth about Santa should not have been spoken, I learned that the jolly ole' man that delivered presents each Christmas Eve was actually my mom and dad. Tearfully and angrily, I ran home from school and sat my little brothers and my little sister down (they were 4 and 3) and yelled the truth to them. After my mother paddled my behind, the four of us sat in the living room crying a symphony and shedding enough tears to water a garden.

One would think that after this traumatic experience that I would have sworn off Santa Claus. No one would have expected me to become a secret elf who loves to bestow gifts upon unsuspecting and deserving people without letting them know who the giver is. Perhaps it was the look on my siblings' faces when I told them. Maybe it was the religious upbringing I had been taught to give to others. Maybe, just maybe, I refused to give up the old man.

When my children were born, I made a vow to myself that I would instill in them the magic of Santa. Santa in my house, only brought 1-2 gifts. Special gifts that the kids requested of him. Santa also filled a stocking for my children. Another stocking hung on the mantle for both of my children that I filled. A mother's stocking. This tradition still continues in my home today.

I always purchased separate wrap, bows, tags and package trim to wrap Santa's gifts in. His stocking always sported a stuffed animal and lots of toys. I hid these items right after the Christmas sales so they weren't seen by my kids when I began buying new items during the following Christmas season. Santa wrote differently than I did too. Neat, clean lines with little black dots adorning each letter. Mom always had sloppy handwriting (still do!). I shop all year to find trinkets for stockings or packages and hide them in basement cupboards. I even made up stories that convinced my children that I was a good friend of Santa Claus. I explained that when a baby is born or a parent adopts a child, the parent is given the phone number to Santa's hot line. That way, when a child has to spend Christmas somewhere besides home (due to a divorce or a vacation), the mother can call Santa and arrange delivery of gifts to the destination or to deliver them early so that they can celebrate Christmas at home. I have used Santa's hot line for years!

Each year, my children and I would make special reindeer food. We would mix glitter and oatmeal and throw it on the lawn. We would also put out a carrot or two. I knew that some wild rabbits lived in a bush by the front of our house and thanks to them, the evidence would be gone the following morning.

Each Christmas Eve, we would make cookies for Santa and spend the evening decorating them and eating many for ourselves. Santa would be given hot chocolate or milk. My kids would write notes to him. In the morning, a crumpled napkin, some crumbs and a quick thank you note would be found on the table. We even have a special cup and plate we use once a year for this tradition.

There had been times when my son; who is 5 years older than my daughter, would question the existence of Santa. Each year, I had to think of ways to convince him. When my son was in 7th grade (yes, he still believed even then), and all of his friends were telling him that he was off his nut, he adamantly insisted that his mother could not possibly afford the things he had received in years past. He wrote a note to Santa on the computer and wouldn't show it to me. I fortunately knew how to open his documents and saw that he wished for a massage machine for me and money to buy gifts for his sister and his father. He asked for a radio and a movie and that was it. That night, I texted myself on my phone with the message, "Tell the boy that I saw his note and not to worry. I will have it all taken care of. Love, S" When I got to the car, my phone beeped and I opened the message. The phone didn't show where the message had come from and I asked my son if he knew what it was about. He beamed a smile and said, "He is real!" and then told me to never mind. I ordered my gift through Amazon and asked that it be sent to him and that no invoice be packed inside. I slipped $25.00 under his pillow one night. He was overjoyed when the package from Amazon came; present wrapped and when he found the money under his pillow, he was ecstatic.

You may wonder how I could allow my son at 12 years old to continue believing in a fantasy, but I cannot bottle the amount of joy that I received in seeing his eyes light up and a smile that lasted for days. The following Christmas, he discovered wrapped presents in my closet and those signed by "Santa". He approached me that year and stated that he "knew" but he lacked joy and happiness that year. He was almost despondent. When I asked him about his mood he explained that he felt guilt over asking for expensive gifts from "Santa" and getting them because he knew I had to sacrifice a lot to get them for him. It made me love my son even more. The experience allowed him to feel compassion for his mother and the experience bonded us.

Believing is Actually Healthy For Children

Live Science published an article that argued believing in Santa Claus was actually healthy for children. Psychologists state that believing in the man in the red suit is a normal, developmentally appropriate part of childhood and it not only reinforces good values, it promotes imagination and in turn develops creative minds.

For those that want to provide facts to their questioning children; St. Nicholas was indeed a real person. He was well known for giving gifts to the poor and his acts instilled wonderful values among those that observed his acts of kindness. St. Nicholas's acts embed the true spirit of the Christmas giving season.

Movies such as Miracle on 34th Street targeted this specific persona and we were left believing that there truly were "Santas" living among us.

The Tradition Continued...

My son joined in with me to make the future Christmas's joyous for his little sister. He continued to make cookies, reindeer food and act surprised each Christmas morning that Santa had helped his wishes come true.

My daughter would often question me about Santa as her friends grew to know the truth but I held on with the belief in Santa Claus and how the spirit of Santa means true love, giving and doing for others.

This year, my daughter is in 7th grade and she believed in Santa Claus this past Christmas. Her friends all laughed at her and told her that it was her mother. She told them they could have their own beliefs but she knew he was real. She opened her gifts the morning after we made cookies for Santa and ate some of them ourselves. We skipped the oatmeal and glitter this year but still put out a carrot for the reindeer. I could tell that she had doubts but didn't want to question too much as the spirit of the man in the red suit meant so much to her.

A week after Christmas I made a mistake in saying that one of the items in her "Santa" stocking was in the mother stocking. It was then that she froze. She turned sheet white and asked me without expression, "Are you really Santa mom?" I asked her would it matter if I was? She then got upset and told me that she couldn't believe that I had lied to her all of her life. I asked her if she understood traditions and why they were important. I explained to my daughter that many cultures, people and parents continue traditions because they promote a sense of belonging to something unique and they bring camaraderie and joy to families. I explained to my child that I still believed in the spirit of Santa. That sacrificing things for yourself so that others could receive was important to me. That it made me feel better inside to know that I had done something unselfish. I told my daughter that I could still hear the "jingle" of Santa's bells each holiday season... not because of gifts that I would receive but because family, sharing and time spent together was the greatest gift I could ever receive. I admitted to being her Santa Claus and awaited for a blast of anger to be thrown my way. Nothing. Only quiet sobbing and a wet face staring at me. As the sobs became louder and her body began to shake I hugged her and apologized for making her feel as if I had lied to her.

My daughter surprised me. She looked me in the face and said, "I am not sad about you being Santa. I am thinking of all the times I was so rotten and mean to you and you still gave up things for yourself to make sure I had them. I am an awful child." I laughed and hugged her tighter and told her that part of being a parent is loving your kids even when they disrespect you. She laughed, cried some more and then went and told her brother that she now "knew".

In looking back, I would do it again. Being Santa Claus not only brought my children joy through the years, it also taught my children a great lesson in life. That giving is more important than receiving. That love transcends selfishness and greed. I couldn't have taught them that without the help of the jolly ole' guy in the red suit. Thank you Santa.

Do You Believe?

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