The other day I was reading a post on my friend Tara’s blog about how her son is suddenly afraid of having Santa come into their house. And I completely empathized with her son, because when I was little I’d had the exact same issue. Although no one offered an alternative, like Tara did for Declan…I was expected to simply suck it up. But then it WAS the late 70’s, before parents got all coddling and super sensitive to their children’s phobias.
When I was little, we had a ritual for Christmas morning. My little brother usually woke up first, and then would wake me up, and then we’d wake our older sister up, and then we’d go wake up mom and dad. Once dad was up, we had to wait with my mom in their room, while my dad went downstairs and did…stuff. I never thought to ask what he was doing, because I assumed I knew. He was obviously first checking to make sure that Santa had in fact come (I recognized that mine was just one family, one house, among millions, and it was conceivable, perhaps even reasonable to expect that mistakes could be made, homes over looked); and second, assuming Santa had come, daddy was checking to make sure he’d also LEFT (I recognized that Santa had a lot of work to do in one night, and it was conceivable, perhaps even reasonable to assume that at some point, he might want to sit for a bit, and being old as he was, could easily nod off.)
When daddy came back upstairs and gave the all clear, we would line up at the top of the stairs in order from youngest to oldest, and then run down the stairs taking a sharp left at the bottom into the living room with the tree and all the presents.
The Christmas I was 4, when I entered the living room, I saw the blanket from the couch drapped over part of the wing back chair and covering a large and suspicious bulge in front of the chair. The wing back chair was exactly the type of chair a man of Santa’s stature might choose to sit in, should he be so inclined to “set a bit”, while visiting our house.
I looked at that blanket covered bulge, and I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that Santa had in fact, chosen to set a bit and had fallen asleep. Daddy had then addressed the issue by covering him with a blanket, clearly hoping I would not notice. I decided to go along with the plan, and carefully avoided the area.
After I had opened all my presents, my mom said “Wait, there’s one more!” I looked around, wondering what box I’d missed. Then she said “How about you look under that blanket?” I. Was. Horrified. Several questions ran through my head: WHY would I want to see what was under that blanket? Was he holding my present on his lap? Had he fallen asleep mid unloading? What if he got mad because I woke him up?
I shook my head, declining the offer and picked up a new toy to play with.
“Come on!” My dad said cheerfully. “Look under the blanket!” Had my parent’s lost their minds? Did they think that just because I hadn’t cried at the mall in a few years, that I was somehow over my fear of Santa, and to the point that I wanted him to become a house guest?!?
“NO!” I said and tried to move further away from the blanket.
“Oh come on. Just peek under there,” my mom encouraged. I felt like I was in the twilight zone. Why, I wondered, did Santa have to pick THIS HOUSE to fall asleep in? Why not a home where they wanted him? And now I was convinced, not only that Santa was there, but that my parents had been brainwashed by his elves and could no longer be trusted. In a tearful panic, I crawled onto my sister’s lap and begged her to be the voice of reason, and possibly my new guardian.
To be honest, I don’t remember what she said, but I remember everyone laughing at me, and me not caring, but starting to wonder if maybe they didn’t realize Santa was under there. Then my sister said “How about if I take the blanket off?” I had a wave of panic, and immediately got out of her lap and hid behind her as she leaned forward and started to pull at the blanket. I covered my face.
“LOOK” my mom said, and I hesitantly moved my hands and saw…
a beautiful, blue and white Holly Hobby kitchen set, all assembled and ready to play with.
And with that, I wish you all a Very Happy Holiday, with just a tiny bit of crazy in it so you’ll have stories to tell 🙂