Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jolly Fat Man in a Red Suit

So I'm pretty sure there aren't any young children reading here. . . and so I feel safe writing a little bit about Santa Claus. I know it isn't even Thanksgiving yet, but I have been thinking a lot about holiday gift-giving and when you have small children Santa naturally comes to mind.

Here are some things I remember about my childhood Santa experiences:

1) After about the second grade it was a big deal knowing who did and did not believe in Santa. I believed until the summer after third grade, which was a pretty long time. I remember the distinct disappointed feeling I would have when I realized another of my friends didn't believe. In fact I think I really knew the truth for a while, but I still wanted to believe. With each friend that didn't it was more difficult to hold on to that belief.

2) I remember driving home from my grandparents' on Christmas Eve and watching for Rudolph's nose out the window of the car. I remember listening for sleigh bells. Most years I thought I saw Rudolph and heard sleigh bells. I remember the cold feeling from leaning my cheek against the car window.

3) I remember that my sister was scared of Santa and had to sleep in my bed on Christmas Eve. (BTW this was also true for Easter.)

4) I remember asking my mom repeatedly (as I got older) whether Santa was real, and she would always respond by asking me, "Do you really want me to tell you?" I still think that was a great response because I didn't learn the official truth until I was really ready to hear it. Good job, Mom!

5) I remember how important and exciting it felt to keep the secret, especially from my brother, who is nine years younger than I am. Once my sister and I both knew it was like we were part of the most fun conspiracy ever. I'm glad that Harper will have the feeling of being in on that great secret someday.

6) I remember that a chimney sweep came to our house when I was old enough not to believe, but I think my brother and sister still did. He "found" a scrap of cloth from Santa's suit in our chimney and gave it to my brother. I get a little choked up thinking about how great that was.

7) We always asked my parents if we'd be allowed to open our gifts on Christmas Eve if Santa had already been to our house by the time we got home. They always said yes. And there was such an exciting moment when we'd walk into our dark house and I would imagine shadowy presents under the tree. Obviously Santa had never come, but I held my breath a little every year.

Do you have a favorite Santa memory? Do you remember how old you were or how you "found out" the truth about Santa? Is there anything special (besides bringing gifts) you help Santa do for your children? Are your children believers?


Erin said...

How my DAD, in his campaign to be HONEST WITH OUR CHILDREN told me the truth about Santa on CHRISTMAS EVE WHEN I WAS FIVE.

*dark cloud of resentment*

I still hang it over his head. I remind him and he's all, SHRUG. And I am all, SHOW SOME REMORSE YOU SCROOGE!

(I hope you know I'm being sarcastic here. MOSTLY.)

Kelsey said...

Erin! I'm so glad you shared, of course I was thinking of you the entire time I was writing this entry.

Maybe you should do your own Santa post, you have SUCH a story to tell!

bluedaisy said...

I found out about the Easter Bunny first (on Easter) and then my powers of deduction led me to the sad, sad truth. No Santa, no Toothfairy... I was standing in my living room, staring out the window all sad and weepy. But then my niece came along about a year later and I was in on the secret and I loved the feeling of "being Santa"...still love that feeling now! Great memories by the way- I remember looking for Rudolph too.

Giselle said...

Oh, I love this post! I have so many similar memories...but that chimney sweep one is priceless!

I think I'll post a similar entry on my blog...I needed some inspiration, so thanks!

McMolten said...

Considering we, in many respects, shared a childhood, you summed up so many of my memories. I also remember seeing Rudolph's nose and pleading to open gifts if Santa had already visited.

I also remember being the first one up for many years while I was younger and always having a time I had to let everyone sleep to, so I would watch a movie before waking the family. Often, that was A Muppet Christmas Carol. I also remember Shannon being great enough to let me wake her up an hour before I got everyone else up.

Finally, I remember my streak of getting physically ill for a streak of a few years on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Too much excitement kept me from holding the Christmas cookies down!

Swistle said...

I never believed in Santa. My parents were/are Christians, and thought it was wrong to teach children to believe in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, etc., because then later if it's revealed that THOSE never-seen creatures are just stories, what's to keep the child from coming to the same conclusion about God? So, no Santa. We do have a fun tradition of my dad calling up the stairs in a totally-fake voice, like how you'd read a Dick and Jane book: "Oh! Look, children, look! SANTA has been here!"---but I don't think he started doing that until we were in middle school.

I remember my parents lecturing us sternly every year that we were NOT supposed to tell other kids that Santa wasn't real, and that it was VERY IMPORTANT that we not spoil it for other people. This made me feel like the important holder of a grown-up secret. Rather than making me think, "Wait. Why'd you spoil it for US, then?"

Paul and I don't tell the kids about Santa, either. We tried with our firstborn, but he INSTANTLY questioned the WHOLE THING: he was, like, TWO, and he was all, "That doesn't make sense." And we just gave up. That child could argue SANTA out of believing in Santa.

Hillary or Ryan said...

What a great post Kelsey! I remember leaving out milk and cookies every year for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. We always wrote a letter to Santa and left it with the cookies. Then, Santa would write a letter to us. Strangely enough, it happened to be the same handwritting as my father's! I don't have a distinct memory of when I found out that Santa wasn't real. I'm pretty sure I was in fourth grade (which is pretty late for figuring that out).

Now, I send letters from Santa from North Pole, Alaska to some of my friend's children. They receive a letter from Santa and get to "own" one square inch of the North Pole. I think it's cute. I do it anonymously so the children (and their parents) wonder who sent the letter. Of course, Santa sent the letter!

Kelsey--thank you for your support. You made me think about how fortunate I am to have carried this baby all this time. I should be appreciative of that fact and not frustrated that one day overdue. And now I'm crying, of course. Love you tons!

hockeygrrrrl said...

Great post!

I remember leaving pb & j sandwiches for Santa, b'c he got tired of all those cookies and needed something healthy you know. LOL. I don't remember if that was my idea, or my parents idea. Perhaps they were tired of eating the cookies?

I remember seeing Santa reaching into my room to put my stocking near my door. All I saw was a red hat and a red arm. But that was the best. OMG you guys, he's real! I totally saw him!

We also had a woodstove, and thought it was small, somehow we still believed he changed size as needed, and he came down our 1 foot pipe, and there was always a small trail of soot and ashes on the hearth around the woodstove. Another OMG he's real!

I tried to believe for a long long time, even though everyone teased me for believing. I think I stopped telling people I believed in about fifth grade, but I secretly believed for another year - just because I couldn't give it up. And it probably helped that I had a sister who is four years to keep up the front for her, right?!

We're trying to institute the Santa belief with our 3 year old. Last year she was freaked out when he visited daycare, so we'll see how it goes this year...

Lil Mouse said...

i think my mom said that she still believed in santa claus and that if WE didnt believe anymore, then he wouldnt fill our stockings after that--when i was old enough to read name tags in cursive so probably second grade, then i could recognize my mom's writing of course and it said my name but from blank and i said who's it from and mom just shrugged. the next year - no santa presents. but that was about right. i think with KJ we will focus on the spirit of santa and giving and all that and see how that works out. giving to others, etc. she's only turning 4 weeks old tomorrow, so no big deal this year or next probably. but my hubs is so excited anyway.

Kristin said...

I was told to share a not so nice term to you for selling out my roomy on point #3...but I will keep it PG for the readers :) I will repeat the fact that she would like a shout-out for all the work she did braiding all the my little ponies hair!!

Emily said...

It's strange, because I usually have a good memory about things, but I don't really remember much about believing in Santa. I know I did, but...

One thing I remember is one time asking my mom that if Santa knew everything we did (like if we were naughty or nice), then was he like God? And my mom got a panicked look on her face and said, "NO! Santa is NOTHING like God!!" I think it scared her that I was comparing the nonexistant jolly man to diety.

But I also, like you, have a much younger sibling, so we played the Santa game up into high school. That was fun. And this is the first year that Katy will be old enough for us to tell her about it. We haven't decided for sure yet, but we've talked about doing Santa but not playing that up as the most important thing. But Santa is fun for kids, I love everything Christmas!

Pam said...

We're going to try and make santa real for Jack, but like Emily, not make it the most important thing. I remember my parents making Christmas unbelievably special & magical every year. Years after I didn't believe we still put carrots out for the reindeer!
I found out when my sister (3.5 years my senior) told me - she had a mean streak!