December 14, 2011

Mr. Claus

Do you remember when and why you stopped believing in Santa Claus? The memory of the Christmas where I discovered the truth about Mr. Claus is both vivid and heartbreaking, even still.

I was seven years old, and we were spending Christmas at my Grandma and Grandpa Dorsey's home in Portland, Oregon. We had spent a wonderful evening with all the Aunts, Uncles, and cousins, opening gifts, snacking on treats, and enjoying endless laughter.

My sister and I were all tucked away in our bed. Erin had drifted off, but I was too excited to sleep. I was filled with anticipation for Christmas morning, but mostly because I knew that Santa was going to be coming that night. I wondered if I could stay awake long enough to hear the jingling bells of Santa's sleigh, and perhaps even the sound of little reindeer hooves on the rooftop.

photos above and below retrieved here

I was still at the age when I liked to sleep with the bedroom door cracked open and the hall light left on. I was lying on my side facing the door when I saw my parents carry gifts from out of their bedroom, past our room and down the stairs, naturally believing that we were asleep. In particular I saw them carrying two flat yellow pieces with little feet {what appeared to be doll feet} peeking out from underneath brown paper bags. I remember thinking how odd that was, and a tiny, unsettled feeling crept into my stomach. Nevertheless, I drifted off into dreamland soon after.

The next morning, my brother, sister, and I rushed down to the Christmas tree. Santa had indeed come! Our stockings were filled and he'd left gifts under the tree, too. But then I spotted the dolls, unwrapped, sitting next to the stockings. They were for my sister and me; two "Dorothy" dolls {from the Wizard of Oz} mounted on stands modeled after the Yellow Brick Road. I lifted the tag gently with my fingers. It read, "To Deanne, from Santa."

Wait. It couldn't be. I was positive that these were the dolls I had seen partially hidden beneath the paper bags my parents carried downstairs. And in that instant, I knew. The secret was out, and I no longer believed in Santa Claus. My little heart was so crushed.

"Santa" had brought me the exact gift I asked for that year--a kitchen set for Barbie. It was so cool, and came with all kinds of tiny utensils, cookware, and fake foods for the little refrigerator. I remember my parents noticing that I didn't seem so excited about my gift, but I couldn't fake my enthusiasm after discovering the awful truth that morning. I didn't tell my parents until years later that I saw them with the Dorothy dolls, and how I then knew that Santa Clause wasn't real.


My childhood heart had so adored the idea of Santa Claus. Everything about him was so magical. I can't begin to put into words the sadness I felt after accidentally discovering the truth. My heart was mourning, and it still continues to mourn a little bit to this day.

Because to be totally honest, I really, really, really wish that Santa Claus was real. And it seems that so many Christmas movies center around the idea that Santa really is real, it's just that no one believes in him anymore. It all comes down to the believing. I have all of these little "what if's" floating around in my mind, beckoning me to believe.

Learning that Santa isn't real left a hole in my heart the way that the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy never did. It's understandable enough--the spirit of joy and giving at Christmastime as manifested through Santa Claus can melt even the iciest of hearts. It's magic in it's purest form.

I still love the whole idea of Santa Claus and all the little surrounding details: the North Pole, the elves, the reindeer, the incredible way Santa just "knows" who's naughty and nice, the jolly old man with white whiskers in the red suit who comes down the chimneys, fills the stockings, and eats the milk and cookies left out for him. I am certain the idea of him will continue to enchant me throughout the rest of my life. And even though I know the truth, I think there will always be a part of me that listens for Santa's sleigh bells and magical reindeer hooves as I fall asleep on Christmas Eve.


Meg said...

Read this:

It might make you feel better!

Moss said...

what can I say, Deanne? I just want you know that I am real and you never have to stop believing in me!


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