When I was a child, I hated Santa Claus. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. I hated the whole idea of Santa. Who was this creepy guy who snuck into my house at night while I was sleeping? If he could get in, who else could get in? I lived in a sketchy neighborhood, so that was a pretty realistic question to ask.
"He comes in to bring your presents," my mom would say. I'd looked at her sideways, "If he's on the up-and-up, why doesn't he come during the day?" My mom would sigh, I would sigh; it was a Santa stand-off of epic proportions.
My mom would have done well to just tell me the truth. I mean, as a kid who was terrified and horrified by the idea of the jolly fat man, this would have been a really easy thing for a parent to tell their kid. But alas, my mom kept up the Santa charade.
Once a neighbor dressed up as Santa and went around to all the houses to see the kids. Of course I was the one to open the door when he stopped at my house. I opened the door, he bellowed, "Ho, ho, ho," and I screamed, ran, and locked myself in the basement for hours.
Now, don't get me wrong, I liked the presents, I just didn't get why some dude had to sneak in my house to give them to me. "He sees you when you're sleeping." YIKES! I had this horrible thought that I'd wake up during the night on Christmas Eve and see St. Nick leaning over my bed looking for drool. The whole thing creeped me out.
"We don't have a chimney," I informed my mother.
"He doesn't need a chimney, he can get in through magic." Whoa. "Wait," I asked, my heart beating faster, "If Santa can get in, who else can get in?"
Once again, I was met with the sigh. "Nobody," my mom replied, exasperated, "I told you, Santa is magic, he can get in because of his magic."
I wanted no parts of this magic.
One Christmas I left cookies and milk out, along with carrots for the reindeer.
"I thought you didn't believe in Santa," my mother asked.
"I never said I didn't believe," I replied. In fact, my problem was that I WAS a believer, and it freaked me out!
"Maybe Santa will leave you extra presents since you left him cookies," my mom suggested.
"Maybe Santa will develop diabetes and lactose intolerance and he'll take next year off," I thought to myself.
As it is with a lot of kids, I'm sure, the time finally came when a classmate suggested that there was no Santa Claus. A lot of little girls in my class cried at the notion that Santa wasn't real, I perked up. Could it really be? Is it true that it's all a big fat lie? Remember folks, this is way before the age of internet; I had no way to Google Santa Claus, I was at the mercy of my parents who swore up and down that Santa was the real deal.
"Go home," my classmate said, "and look in your parent's closet. I bet you all the things you asked for are hiding in there."
I ran home with bated breath. I pulled a chair into my mom's bedroom, stood on it, and snuck a peek at the top shelf. I moved a few things around and lo and behold, my classmate was right; there, hiding behind a few bathrobes and some towels were a stack of toys.
Those lying bastards! Not the typical thought of a nine-year-old, but hey, I was being duped by my parents - this was serious! I sat on the floor and contemplated my whole life up to that moment. If they had lied about this; what else had they lied about? Did pets really go to live on a farm when they disappeared? Did my mom really have eyes in the back of her head?
I closed the closet, put the chair back, and pondered the meaning of life over a YooHoo and an episode of Spiderman. When my mom got home I looked at her twice. Was she really my mom? Oh, the humanity!
Fast forward to Christmas morning. With each gift I opened I found myself getting angrier and angrier. There was the holiday Barbie I asked for, the red "feety" pajamas, the ET stickers for my new bike!
I slammed down the boxes. My mom lost her mind. "What the hell is wrong with you?" She was clearly annoyed, as was I.
"I know," I shouted. "I know there is no Santa Claus! I know you've been lying to me!"
My mom was pissed. SHE was pissed? I was the one who'd been lied to. I was the one they were deceiving. I had every right to be mad, and I was!
"You still got all the toys you asked for," my mom began, in that voice that let me know that I was about to not have those toys. "Does it really matter that Santa didn't bring them? Aren't you sad to know that Santa isn't real?"
Sad? What she kidding me? It was like she didn't even KNOW me! I was the kid that would run away screaming at the sight of a mall Santa. How could I be sad?
"I'm not sad," I answered calmly, "I'm mad that you and dad lied. Why not just tell me the truth?"
My mom shrugged, "I guess believing in Santa Claus was more for me than it was for you. It was about you believing and staying a kid. You'll understand when you grow up."
And now, I am grown up. I no longer fear or loathe Santa, and I actually enjoy the sight of little kids at the mall reciting their lists to the man in red. I love to watch the excitement that kids have when they see Santa in a local parade, when they leave their cookies and milk out on Christmas Eve, and when they wake up on Christmas morning to see what Santa left them.
But, if it's all the same, I'm still really glad that Santa's not creeping in my house, watching me when I sleep, and eating all my cookies. I still live in a sketchy neighborhood, and that whole thing still creeps me out!