Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Santa and Me - Part 2
© 2010 Linda Goodman
(This is part 2 of my story. Part 1 posted on December 8.)
What could I do but play along? And I must admit that when I awakened on the Christmas day that Morgan was three years old, the first year she was aware of all the hoopla, I was thrilled to hear her sit up and bed and loudly call out, “Did he come?”
Then I watched in awe as she walked downstairs and entered the wonderland of toys that her pawpaw and her daddy had assembled for her. She went from one to the other, hugging her new doll, playing her new keyboard, unpacking her tea set….. Finally laughing in delight as she spotted the empty plate and glass that had held cookies and milk for Santa.
She was in awe when she found the letter that Santa had left for her. She was smiling and crying at the same time as her mother read the letter to her. I must admit that I shed a few tears of my own as I watched her big blue eyes widen with wonder.
And now this same child was asking me, “Mawmaw, is Santa Claus pretend?”
I decided to answer her question with a question. “Why do you ask?”
“Well,” she replied, “a boy in my class is telling everybody that Santa Claus is pretend.”
I asked another question. “What do you think?”
She thought for a moment. “Well, Mawmaw, he is awful fat. How can somebody that fat fit down a chimbley?”
This was going to be tough, but I was up for it. “Morgan, remember when we found that mouse in my house, and you asked me how it got in? Remember I told you that mice could collapse their bodies to a quarter of an inch and slip in through a heating grate?”
I continued. “Well, Santa is magic! Just like a mouse, he can collapse his body so that it’s small enough to slide down any chimney.”
“But, Mawmaw, sometimes I’m at my house on Christmas, and sometimes I’m at your house, and sometimes I’m at Granny Annie’s. How does Santa always know where to bring my toys?”
“I write him a letter every November to let him know where you will be.”
“But your fireplace has glass in the front of it. How does Santa get through that without breaking it or cutting himself?”
“Your Pawpaw is very handy. He takes the glass out of the fireplace after you go to bed, and he puts it back after Santa leaves.”
“How does Santa get into houses that don’t have chimbleys?
“For those houses, Santa has a magic key that opens any door.”
Now she really looked confused. “If Santa has a key that opens any door, why does he bother with chimbleys at all?”
I was running out of answers. “Have you asked your mom about this?”
She looked up at me with trusting blue eyes. “Yes, I did ask Mommy, but I know that you will tell me the truth.”
I was in a quandary. I did not want to be the one to tell her that Santa Claus was not real; yet, if I withheld the truth now, she might never trust me again. How could I extricate myself from this dilemma?
Suddenly, out of nowhere, an image of an 8 x 10 black and white photo, lying underneath a row of hanging file folders in a drawer of the cabinet in my office, filled my head.
“Just a minute, honey,” I told her as I ran from the room. “I’ll be right back!”
I hurried to the filing cabinet in my office and searched as fast as my fingers would sift. In the third drawer down, I found what I wanted, just as my unexpected image had shown me.
Quickly I ran back to Morgan. “Here!” I gushed as I handed her the photo. “This is a picture signed by the man himself!”
She stared at the black and white photo. “What did he sign his name Sergeant Santa?”
“Uhm….that’s what the elves call him,” I improvised. “It’s like a boot camp in the North Pole around Christmas time!”
She traced his beard with her index finger. She ran her fingers across his signature. “I knew he was real,” she whispered.
The following Monday, Morgan took that photo to school with her and showed it to all her friends who had been told that Santa was just pretend. Together they confronted the bully who had tried to shake their faith, showing him proof that Santa was real. My daughter told me that Morgan became a heroine to her classmates.
A few years later, my daughter called to tell me that Morgan had found out that Santa was a myth.
“Who told her?” I asked.
“Nobody told her,” I was informed. “Her class was studying aerodynamics and she figured it out all by herself.”
I asked to speak to Morgan. When she came to the phone, I asked her if she was okay.
“Sure, Mawmaw,” she replied. “It’s just Santa. It’s not like it was God or anything. But, you know, it was fun to believe for a while. I think I will probably pretend that I still believe. You know, for my baby sister.” She paused before adding, “It’s like that storytelling thing you always say – Just because it can’t happen doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”
Morgan still has the picture I gave her, and I’m sure that Sergeant Santa would be happy to know that one of his autographed black and white photos is tacked to the bulletin board in the room of a fourteen year old girl in Fort Mill, South Carolina.
As for myself, I still have mixed feelings about Santa Claus. I still cringe when I see parents spend enough money to buy a full month’s food supply on toys that lose their luster after a few weeks, while so many others struggle just to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. There is something tragically wrong with that scenario.
And yet, I cannot help but fondly remember the thrill of that magic Christmas long ago, when I heard a three-year-old girl calling, “Did he come?”