I don’t remember the exact moment when my parents told me that Santa Clause doesn’t exist. I assume I was 14 or 15 (I was stubbornly idealistic), and I know that it was my older sister who ruined it for me, although I refuse to hold a grudge because the last thing I would want would be for Santa to come between my me and my sister. That’s not his style.
What I do remember is laying in bed that Christmas Eve, trying hard not to hear my parents shuffling around putting the presents under the tree. This, I concluded, would be the real Christmas killer. Like waking up with your mother’s hand under your pillow stealing your tooth, and the first thing that runs through your head isn’t, “So you’re the tooth fairy?” rather it’s, “My mom works for the tooth fairy?” It’s embarrassing. So as long as I didn’t hear them, I would be fine. I closed my eyes tight, buried myself under the covers, and waited it out.
While I was under there, something dawned on me: If my parents were Santa, who were all the people dressed up as Santa at the mall and on TV? Now, I wasn’t stupid. I knew they weren’t the real Santa. But obviously I thought they worked for the real Santa. But how could that work is my parents were Santa? Did they work for my parents? Is there a whole underground capitalistic system of make-believe holiday icons? Then I imagined the Easter Bunny sitting behind a large mahogany desk smoking a Cohiba, and I got sad. And I fell asleep.
Well . . . now I know. All those Santas out in public asking kids what they want for Christmas? They’re graduates of Santa school. Trained in the art of deception, these men have been taught and tested on how to have little boys and girls sit on their laps, how to make them believe that, like The Secret says, all you have to do if put it out there and it will come back to you. (Unless of course they ask for things like “love.” Because what’s that? Is it a warm bed on a cold night? Is it checking your phone every five minutes for a text message you know isn’t coming? Is it the smell of whiskey on you pillow and the feeling that you’ve made another big mistake? Better to suggest a toy. They won’t let you down.)
Maybe some flunked out. Maybe some were expelled for smoking pot in the bathroom. Maybe the valedictorian and the salutatorian engaged in a vicious battle for student-Santa president; maybe the accusations of inappropriate lap behavior abounded. In any event, this is the childhood dream of Christmas magic has boiled down to – a brief semester of power-point presentation and scantron tests on bearded parlor tricks and candy-caned psychology.
Me? I like to believe that Charles W. Howard, dean of the Charles W. Howard Santa Clause School, was right when he said, "He errors who thinks Santa enters through the chimney. Santa enters through the heart. Unless he is with Mrs. Clause, then he enters through the vagina."
Merry Christmas, everyone! See you next week.