Today’s Holidailies prompt is:

Today is St. Nicholas’ Day: Did you believe in Santa Claus/Father Christmas? How did you find out the truth? Would you tell your kids about Santa?

I’m pretty sure my parents went out of their way to preserve the fantasy-as-reality of Santa Claus. Up until the age of ten or eleven, I think. Personally, the whole idea of faking your kids out about some fantasy being who roams the Earth looking to shove a present down a chimney is a bit on the cruel side, regardless of how much a part of the American tradition it is. I was pretty heartbroken when I figured it out and was not happy with my mom or dad when I realized that they were the ones who were eating the cookies I had baked and the milk I had left out. I thought it was strange that my dad and Santa had the same taste in chocolate chip cookies (add walnuts) and that Santa would go get milk out of the fridge because he liked it ice cold.

From bedtime until the early morning hours of Christmas Day, my sister and I were prisoners in our own room. Bathroom trips required an escort and we could only cross into my parents’ room to use their bathroom (when every other night we had to use the one in the hall). We were never allowed walk down the hall let alone look down the hall, and my parents were pretty adamant about that. And we tried, man, we tried to see what was going on in the living room and why my parents would play music at a moderately loud volume until they went to sleep. I think I once snuck a glimpse and saw my dad with a tool in his hand before I was ten years old, but I vaguely remember passing it off as normal. My dad was a carpenter, so him and tools… forget it.

The fateful year I discovered the decade-long hoax of Santa Claus was when I became inquisitive enough to start putting the pieces together. Okay, so cookies were made and my mom and dad bought presents for us to have. Per tradition, these presents were hidden all over the house; usually in some high up place in the garage or sometimes in the attic. At ten and eight years old, respectively, neither my little sister nor I were brave enough to venture up into the attic crawlspace without a slingshot, three bags of ammo. and preferably a flamethrower or some napalm. The presents were relatively safe from us. But I think that year, they got lazy and decided they didn’t want to have to pull down the ladder and hike up there because my mom put a few in the one place she should have realized I staked out regularly: her sewing room.

The sewing room was adjacent to my bedroom and had pass-through access to the hall right across from the bathroom my sister and I used all the time. I mean the closet in the sewing room had two doors to it and you could walk through the clothes in there and end up in the magical land of Narnia the opposing hallway. Inside that closet was a shelf up high, but the sewing room was also where my mom kept stools and stepladders. Now, granted, I wasn’t tall at age ten, but I was pretty damned smart. Stacking a few things on top of one another and I had a stool, books, and a box ready to support my weight so I could start digging around and thats when I found it: a couple of Star Wars figures! I tried not to get too excited, because my mom was a teacher, and sometimes she would give those out as prizes for students who did well or something. She was cool like that. But at the same time, I knew that they knew that I was aiming for a Star Wars Christmas. So, I simply waited it out until Christmas morning to see what would happen.

By the way, I love this Christmas story, because it’s also the story of how I rule and my sister got dicked out of presents.

Christmas morning was just as restrictive as Christmas eve. The rule was, mom and dad were the only ones who could determine when it was time to open presents. So, my sister and I could rush out there two minutes after they went to bed, but if they found out we opened them before they said so, it had the potential of being the worst Christmas ever, as they pack up all the toys and donated them or something. I doubted they would ever do that, but when you’re a kid, you try not the push the envelope too much when the risk outweighs the reward by massive tonnage, you know? My sister and I drooled over the presents and played the game of who got what, by picking them up one by one and shaking it or feeling the texture of what lay beneath the wrapping paper. My sister was drooling over this gigantic box with her name on it from Santa. Most every present there was from Santa with a few from my mom and dad. See? They went out of their way to distinguish Santa.

I was checking out everything around me and noticing other little things about Santa’s visit last night. My sister refused to believe that Santa didn’t exist, and back then she would argue at the drop of a hat, so I didn’t bother trying to convince her. Needless to say, my doubts were raised and since we had some time to kill before my parents woke up and stumbled into the living room, I had time to conduct my investigation thoroughly. I began looking around for clues:

Clue #1: Santa and my mother have the exact same handwriting.

Clue #2: Santa not only cleaned the plate of cookies, but the special plate we used was washed and drying in the rack!

Clue #3: Santa closed the flue behind him! (Well… that could have been part of his magic, but that flue sticks and he’d have to be ubermage to close it without muscle behind it.)

Clue #4: I went outside, and noticed no difference to the roof. It had rained that year and even from rooftop to rooftop, reindeer have to leave some muddy prints. I couldn’t imagine Santa taking the time to clean hooves between landings; the man’s got enough to do in a night by bringing presents to every kid in the world.

I remember feeling being indignant about it after I had enough evidence to prove that Santa didn’t exist. The anger was welling up inside me as I wasted all that time being good and writing letters to him. All those dreams of catching him in the middle of the night and asking him to take me with him so I could help out someplace were for naught! What the hell, man? Did they think this was fucking funny? I imagine them staying up every Christmas eve, wrapping presents and having a good chuckle at our expense: man, those kids are dumb, thinking some fat man could shimmy down the chimney and drop off a load of gifts for them. I started to doubt the Tooth Fairy right then, because I couldn’t imagine my Rottweiler allowing some strange woman to enter the house without barking his fool head off.

That damned stupid dog always woke me up.

Finally, my parents woke up and managed to move into the living room. With a huff of exhaustion, they inclined their heads and indicated that we could start with the carnage. Oh, and it was a carnage of wrapping paper, tape, and boxes, believe me. Woe be tithe the wrapping paper or cardboard that separated a Garcia kid from his or her Christmas present. I started opening my gifts and was elated to find that the Star Wars figures I saw in the sewing room were to be mine! But, I quickly checked the tage on the wrapping paper and read, “To: Mikey From: Santa.” Case closed, bitches! Santa is a hoax! Parents commit fraud!

Truth be told, I so didn’t care. “Santa” brought me the entire first generation Star War collection and a huge carrying case to collect them all. It took me like four hours to open all the presents. Oh, so yeah… about my sister: the big box was actually the huge Holly Hobbie play set kitchen and dining room and she loved it. But see, my parents believed that present funding was to be somewhat equal between the kids. so if say, you spend $100 on one kid, you gotta spend that amount on the other so that it didn’t seem unbalanced. Problem was, they dropped a huge wad on the play set (those things weren’t cheap at Toys R Us), and to make up for it, they picked up all the individual action figures and wrapped them all separately.

My sister’s Christmas morning was done in thirty seconds. I, on the other hand, kept opening more and more stuff. And she watched me.

And she fumed. Man, oh man… she was pissed. She started in on my mom, talking about how Santa only brought her one gift and me just shy of an even thousand. Just as Mom was about to point out that hers was a huge gift and mine was a bunch of tiny little ones, I turned around and said:

“He likes me more.”

Shortly before the crying and subsequent parental admonishment, I swear, if only for a moment, I heard my dad chuckle into his coffee mug just as I said that.. and just before I got a spanking on Christmas morning.

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