Saturday, December 17, 2011

Santa Scrutiny

If there is one question that has dominated the proverbial watering hole around here in December, you know when we're not exuding joy, peace and love, it is the eternal question: is Santa real?

Every year I have something to say about this (see here, here, here or here  if you're shopping is done and you ran out of egg nog and rum).  To summarize, every year, Mr. Physics has had a lot of questions.  Ms. Still-Believes-in-Princesses has been a complete convert.  The first Christmas she apprehended the whole Santa gig, she exclaimed, to my theological horror, "SANTA IS BETTER THAN JESUS!!!"

This year Sydney is delving deep into the questions.  This is how the thought patterns have evolved:
  • Mommy is really cheap so there is no way she would buy the presents from Mommy and and the Santa gifts (note: Daddy is no where to be seen in this hypothesis).
  • The one sure way to tell if there is a Santa, is to wait until she is a grown-up, has kids, then doesn't put out any gifts from Santa for her kids, and see if any Santa gifts appear.
  • Last year she told no one that she wanted to proper gloves from Santa. She didn't mention it in her Christmas letter and she didn't even tell Mommy. She got gloves in her stocking from Santa.
  • On reflection, she thought Santa might actually be Jesus, because he knows more than Santa. (A nice reversal of fortunes for Jesus, don't ya think?)
Jackson started his analysis like this:
  • it's Jesus' birthday so anything can happen.
  • Santa might be real, but he may not be the way we all imagine him. He may not wear a red suit or have a big belly, or red cheeks.
  • Gifts might actually just materialize, like things in the Star Trek transporter.
Last Friday, Jackson said "Mommy, can I ask you a question?" 

"Who puts the presents on the fireplace? Is that you or Santa?"

This was no vague request, it was concrete, specific and direct. It was, in short, the money question.  I knew what he was asking. The Mommy-Daddy presents are wrapped and under the tree. Santa leaves his on the fireplace.

So I answered the best I could, digging deep to the vats of parental wisdom I have accumulated up in the past ten years.

"Huh?"

"Who actually puts the presents on the fireplace?"

"What do you think?"

"I want the answer to the question"

"How do you think they get there?"

"You're not going to tell me, are you."  He was on the verge of tears.  This was new. Usually he doesn't persist past my answer-a-question-with-a-question approach popular in the celebrity set.

"Why are you asking now?"

"I am just wondering.  Well, actually I was thinking that you always ask to read our Christmas letters, so you know what we are asking for from Santa."

I guess my hopes of becoming a spy for CSIS might not materialize. 

"Are kids talking about this at school?"

"No."

"What do other kids say at school? Do they believe?"

"Some do. Some don't. Some say that they have seen their parents put out the Santa gifts. Some say they have seen Santa put out the Santa gifts. Some don't know."

"What do you say when you're asked?"

"I say I half believe."

"Should we talk about this after Christmas?"

"I knew you wouldn't tell me."

"Isn't part of the magic of Christmas not really knowing? Like wondering whether it's really true?"

"No.  The thing is, what doesn't really make sense is poor kids. Do they get the same amount from Santa as everyone else?"

A few more evasive maneuvers and attempts at deferring having this discussion to the cozy nights of January and I knew I couldn't just dodge the question as I have done for 5 years.

"I will tell you, but you have to tell me you really want to know. I can't un-tell you. So think about it for a while."

Like till January.

So he mulled over the possible answers he might receive.

Answer 1: Santa puts the gifts on the fireplace. It's all true.
Answer 2: Mommy puts the gifts on the fireplace.
Answer 3: Other answer that  he can't think of that would explain everything, satisfy the analytical part of the brain and let the magic continue.

I think he was really hoping for 3, but knew in his heart of hearts it wasn't 1.

He carefully weighed the answers and how that might change anything. He postulated that no matter what answer he received, he would still get presents. So it didn't really matter.

He wanted to know.

"Okay, you want to know, but when do you want to know? Now or after Christmas?"

I think there is less red tape in getting access to medicinal marijuana.

Finally, I skated as close to the line as I could without going over:

"Can you tell what the answer is from all my questions?  Do you really want me to say it? Out loud?"

"Yes, Mommy."

Then I got serious.  "If I tell you, you know it's confidential information. You can't tell Sydney. You can't tell your cousins. You can't tell your classmates." 

"I know Mommy."  he answered solemnly.  It's like he knew he wasn't going to be a Muggle anymore.

Then I left nothing to chance and took a page from the book of Jewish mothers.

"If you tell Sydney, I will give all your presents to poor children."

And just like that, it was over.

He was quiet. 

But I couldn't be.

"If you breathe a word to Sydney, even if you're mad at her or at me, I swear I will take her to Disneyland and leave you at home."

I could so be a Jewish mother.

1 comment:

violinlinlin said...

This is so brilliant Heather- I haven't had this discussion yet, but I do know it's around the corner. Thanks again for sharing. Merry Christmas!