12.12.2007

Santa... and Mom and Dad

Avert the eyes of young children... things are going to be revealed here that no child should have to know. But for all of you adults, these Christmas memories just might warm your hearts. I've been thinking of them fondly as Barry and I prepare our home for the holidays.

When my brother, sister, and I were kids, my parents really played up the magic of Santa. I have vivid memories of lying in my bed at night, nervously awaiting his arrival at our house, waiting to hear the telltale signs of his presence. First, there'd be the jingle of the bells that were lashed to the reindeer's harnesses as they approached out house. Then there'd be a heavy thud on the roof as Santa landed his sleigh. And we'd hear movement in the living room below us, once he'd made his way down the chimney. Of course, the following morning, there'd be signs of his visit, too. The cookie crumbs from the snack we'd left him, top of the carrots we'd left for the reindeer, and often a little note from him waited for us in the living room. My father always brought us outside before we opened presents to see the reindeer footprints and the sleigh tracks that he'd discovered in our snowy Ohio yard that morning when he woke.

But even with all of that evidence, I started doubting the reality of Santa in about the third grade, when other kids at school insisted he was imaginary. I got into heated debates defending the guy, but it seemed that by that age, most of my friends had dismissed Santa as a make-believe character.

I remember a night one December, after I had been tucked in bed and kissed goodnight, when I tossed and turned in my bed, unable to sleep as I thought about the possibility that Santa wasn't real. I started crying, confused about the reality of that man that I knew visited our house yearly - I mean, I had evidence! - and went downstairs seeking comfort from my father. He was sitting in his corner of the family room couch, and when he saw me in tears, scooped me up on his lap and held me. I choked out the question, "Is Santa real, Dad?" And his reply was perfect. "Do you believe in Santa, Suzy?" Of course, deep down, I did. "There's your answer," he said.

That satisfied me for years to come, but eventually I got to questioning Santa's existence once again. This time, I was older and wiser, and I had a plan. My friends Jenny and Danielle, who lived down the street, planned to compare the tags on their gifts from Santa with mine. If the handwriting on the tags matched - the old guy was safe. But if not, we'd simply have to stop believing. I was really anxious about our plan falling into place, and my sister, who is ten years older than me, could tell that something was going on in my little head. The night of Christmas Eve, she finally got the plan out of me, only after promising not to speak a work of it to my parents. The following morning, when the three of us girls met to compare our tags, we were amazed and, honestly, relieved, to see that the tags had identical handwriting.

I'm not a parent myself, but if I were, I can't imagine making Christmas any more special for my own kids than my mother and father made it for me. I think of my father standing in the freezing cold on Christmas Eve night, shaking bells, pounding on the roof, sawing off a dowel to make a reindeer hoof template to press into the snow, and banging on the doors of Jenny and Danielle's homes at two in the morning on Christmas day to give their parents gift tags that he'd penned in identical handwriting. And of my mother, who waited in line to get a coveted Cabbage Patch Doll which seemed to miraculously appear under the tree one year when it had been reported on the news that they were completely sold out, who wrote notes from Santa to me that made me feel like the old guy really knew who I was, who made sure we had Advent wreaths and calendars and that we participated in these meaningful rituals, and who really emphasized the true meaning of Christmas. The magic of Christmas that they created for me has been their best Christmas present ever.

26 comments:

traci said...

oh susan! i'm seriously weeping at my desk. christmas was so real for me too as a child and i have such special memories that seem to bust out each year around this time. thanks for the sweet glimpse into your history.

maritza said...

That is such a sweet memory. Thanks for sharing that - your parents are so awesome.

Linda Permann said...

how cute!

i love my mom's story of our cabbage patch kids. she had gone to the toys 'r' us and there was a woman there deciding between the 3 dolls they had left. so my mom swooped all three off of the shelf (there were three of us young kids). that poor woman. but go mom! hah!

kat@taylormadedesigns.com said...

So lovely to hear such a sweet, sweet story. Your parent's sound terrific.

As a parent now myself, I want the same for my kids as I had. my parent's did a lot to make holidays and event's special for us, and I want to carry on those traditions.

Happy Holidays!

beki said...

How lucky you are to have such fond childhood memories!

Artsy Momma said...

That is down right the SWEETEST christmas story I have ever heard. You have amazing parents.

I have to tell you I was debating in the next few years to give Leila a magical story of Christmas, Santa the whole thing or just be up front and give the hard cold facts.

I think I am going to give her the chance to enjoy the magic of Christmas. Thank you for telling us about your holiday memories. And tell your parents thank you as well!

Mom said...

Oh Suzy,

Bringing tears to my eyes with this one. How well I remember it and now can see it happening with your nephews and niece who were visited last week by St. Nicholas.

St. Nicholas was at the Ursuline Brunch here and then again (the same one) at their school on the feast of St. Nicholas, last Thursday evening, December 6th. Tony had made footprints of St. Nicholas and his donkey in the snow for the kids to see early that morning. Nicholas told St. Nicholas at the party that night about the footprints. St. Nick responded by saying that he tries to get his donkey to stop running around but that he is so excited about delivering the little gifts to the children that he dances all around in the snow and St. Nick has to chase him to get him back on track! Christmas is truly a wonderful magical time and one of God's greatest gifts to us.

junkdrawer said...

so stinkin' cute. thanks for sharing the memories.

Sarah said...

What a wonderful story!! I love the traditions of this season.

your Dad said...

loved every minute...treasure every memory...
miss it all...still believe!!!

Jamie Welsh said...

I'm totally crying too! What a beautiful story! My parents did a few things like that as well, but reading your post, makes me want to be sure I do that for my future children!

Christine Edwards said...

What a sweet story...thank you for sharing!

feli said...

*sniff sniff* your story brought a tear to my eye. When I have kids, I want them to be able to tell stories like these when they grow up.

owh Susan, thank you for sharing.

Stephanie said...

WOW, amazing story and what wonderful parents you have. Made me all sorts of teary eyed.

amandajean said...

wow...your parents really made christmas special for you, didn't they? how wonderful! I remember getting a cabbage patch doll one year and I was over the moon excited about it. I still have it, and my kids play with it now. :)

casey said...

Aw... I loved reading your Christmas memories!! How special!! :) There is still, to this day, always a present under the tree marked "To Casey, From Santa". Because deep down inside of me, Santa does exist; in all the lovely, generous thoughts of people year 'round. :)

Maryanne said...

Suz... I still remember being thrilled at figuring out your plan to fool Santa! How lucky we are to have such great memories.

Mom beat me to the story about St. Nicholas... the kids were really thrilled to find his footprints and donkey prints. He played it up so well when questioned. "St. Nicholas" is actually an older gentleman who lives in our parish and really looks and plays the part well. I thought the kids almost figured it our when they saw him working in "regular" clothes as a crossing guard. I quickly explained that everyone needs to work in the off-season, and what a great job for someone who is the patron saint of children! I just love the magic of it all and hope it never ends...

house on hill road said...

what a blessing. thanks for sharing your memories.

shy_smiley said...

Lovely Christmas memories... thanks for taking the time to share with us!

mariss said...

What a pleasure to hear about those memories! Especially from a native Floridian. "Our" Santa had to come through the sliding glass door, since we had no chimney. My dad always said, "Let's leave Santa a cold beer, we don't want to be like all the other kids!" Plus, it was 80 degrees ;) We would also leave a carrot for Rudolf too!

I loved reading your parents comments--your dad's comment made me tear up for a second. Picturing him on your roof--oh how sweet! And your sister and mom are awesome too :)

Thanks for making me smile this morning.

Erin said...

Yep definitely teary eyed here too. What wonderful parents you have. They really made Christmas so magical for you. How wonderful to have such fond memories of Christmas.

Nadia said...

Aww! That's super sweet.

I got a Cabbage Patch doll too, which I still keep around...

Chickenbells said...

How wonderful! My parents always went to good lengths to make us believe in Santa as well...My niece, who is homeschooled, asked me last year if Santa was real...I looked at her and said..."Oh yes! I believe in Santa...very much!" And, I hope I always will...

marilyn said...

Unfortunately, I was away from the computer for quite a while. I've been staying late at work and therefore collapse right after dinner. I made it my business to look at your blog this evening and was very glad I did. Your Christmas memories are so wonderful, you certainly were blessed with a wonderful family who provided you with an enviable childhood. Thank you for sharing. Your writing is so wonderful, I can't wait to read your first book. Happiest of holidays to you and your family.

laundrygirl said...

I loved this story. I have shared it a few times this holiday season just because it's so great!

Bronwyn, said...

Your lovely Christmas memories brought tears to my eyes.

My children know that if they admit to no longer believing in Santa Claus then they don't get a present from him - so each year I check, just in case...they're 17 & 14!

My daughter chose a cabbage patch lookalike doll when she was small, & it was the only cuddly thing that her little brother became attached to (apart from his parents & sister).

Haha about Mariss's father's cold beer!