Sunday, November 26, 2006

So, Santa -- are you a Cynic?

When is it, exactly, that I became such a cynic? I might have been idealistic at some point in my life. But no longer.

One area of idealist turned cynic is Santa Claus:

I think it is really gross that kids go and sit on the lap of some stranger dressed in a red furry suit at the mall. Kids cry, parents urge kids to sit on this stranger's lap and get the photo taken, "we've waited this long." The "mall Santa" is making an hourly wage to sit there and listen to these kids' lists of what they want for Christmas. He's also in countless photo albums for years to come. It just gives me the shivers.

My grandma always told me that all the mall Santas were elves, sent by the real Santa. I wasn't a dumb kid, it just didn't make sense to me that at Tyson's Corner there's a Santa at the same time there's one at Tel Twelve. Then on Thanksgiving Day when Santa is in the float for the Macy's Parade in New York at the same time as he's in the Chicago parade. The elf story sufficed for me. I wanted to believe. You would never think this about me now.

Then there was the story about how Santa got to all the houses in one night...and what did Santa do about the time differences and the kids in countries on the other side of the earth? And, how the heck did he eat all the cookies and milk. Wouldn't he get a stomach ache? My dad's response was that he fed it to the reindeer. They needed their energy, you know. One year I remember that "Santa" left a note on the same piece of paper I'd left one. I wish I still had that note, I could get the handwriting analyzed.

The year that I figured out that Santa was a fantasy was when my gifts from my mom and dad were wrapped in the same Pink Panther wrapping paper as the gifts from Santa. I really wanted Santa to remain what Santa was, but the gig was up. My brother and sister (4 years and 2 years my junior, respectively) had a pact with my mother - which they broke - to let me keep believing.

It was too much to hold on to. That darn Pink Panther paper just gave it away for me. I couldn't trick myself any more and I guess at age 10, it's time to let Santa live for the littler kids.

When we learned the "truth" about Santa, all of a sudden he wasn't visiting us anymore. My sister and I signed gifts "Love, Santa" and my dad did too. Were we the elves? Did we get the job now? And how are we carrying this out with my neices?

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