Here I am, curled up beneath the sheets. Staring at the yellow walls that surround me. I have fallen asleep hundreds of times while growing up inside this very room. Many other Christmas Eves were spent trying to sleep in this room actually.
It is another Christmas Eve and yet again, I cannot sleep. What is my deal? I am going to be 20 in four more days. Are 20 year olds still allowed to be excited about Santa coming? Because I am excited. So excited that I can't welcome sleep.
Children are never nestled all snug in their beds on Christmas Eve. Such a lie. They roll around and rip the covers off the mattress. They can hardly hold still. Except when they think they hear a rustling noise from the living room that could be St. Nick. Then they hold very still. They freeze and practically quit breathing. They don't budge a muscle. And they wonder, "Could it be him?" I know all this because I remember doing it myself. And quite honestly, I remember because it wasn't too long ago that I was still doing it. I get mocked quite regularly over the fact that I did not know the truth about Santa Claus until I was in 7th grade. Yep, it's the truth. I never stopped believing. I even tried to argue with my mom when she broke the news to me.
The truth came about due to the loss of my very last baby tooth. The last one had stayed in my mouth a while so when it finally came out, I was quite excited. I felt it was a right of passage, I was a bit more of an adult now. I guess my mom decided I was too, because she just couldn't play tooth fairy for one more tooth.
It was just one more blasted tooth.
I showed her the blood-stained tooth in the palm of my hand and announced I was going to set it under my pillow. My mom stopped me before I ran off to my room.
"Why don't you just give me the tooth, Kelsey?"
"Huh. . ."
"Kelsey, I'm really tired. Just give me the tooth now and I'll give you the money."
"But Mom, what about the tooth . . ."
"I am the tooth fairy, Kelsey."
The first stage of loss started setting in for me, which is denial.
"No you are not, Mom."
My mom let out a sigh, "Yes, I am."
"So if she's not real, what about Santa? Are you going to start telling me he's not real either?"
Mom sighed again. "Kelsey, I think it's about time I told you. Your dad and I are Santa Claus as well."
I think it was about this time that I took off for my room in tears.
It was all very dramatic. I flung myself onto my bed, sobbing into my pillow. My heart was broken. I had been such a believer, only to find it was all lies. My mom came in minutes later to comfort me. She sat on the bed and began rubbing my back. I calmed down a bit and began questioning her, still hoping I could discover Santa might be an actual real being.
"Who eats all the cookies and drinks the milk?"
"I always give Santa lots of cookies, Mom."
"Well. . .sometimes he throws some in the garbage."
"What about the carrots for the reindeer?"
"Dad takes care of those too."
I was searching for something to hold on to. Racking my brain.
"What about that year Jace got that tool box with his name carved into it? You couldn't make that. Santa would have had to make it for him."
"I ordered it and payed to have the name put on."
I was running out of ideas.
"The letters! What about the letters we wrote to Santa Claus? He sent letters back. I still have it somewhere."
"Kelsey. . .the mail man wrote those."
"The mail man?"
"Yes. I thought it was very nice of him."
Yeah, real nice. Thanks for being an impostor, mail man.
I dug into my pillow with my fingernails and wailed into the pillow. After the wave of sadness passed, I decided I wanted to be really angry.
"How could you? You have lied to me my whole life! You and Dad are just liars!"
She didn't say anything.
"Why would adults do that to their children? Would you like to tell me the truth about any more lies you've told me? Is my whole life just a big, giant lie!?!"
I am sure I said more horrible and mean things, but I can't remember. But I am sure that is the meanest I have ever been to my mom and I didn't even get in trouble. She didn't say much. She just stayed in my room and kept rubbing my back. And I cried. Probably for hours. She rubbed my back until I calmed down and had cried myself tired. There I lay, a puffy eyed pre-teen that now knew the truth about Santa Claus. All the kids at school had been right. I had been the fool. Or had I?
I wish Santa were real. But the magic of Santa is still real for me. Obviously, or I would be sleeping right now. I love that children are so good at believing. They have such giant imaginations and great hope. I am actually very happy that I stayed a child for so long. I know some kids that found the truth about Santa when they were five or six. That to me is very sad.
I can stand the mockery for believing until I was about 12. I'll take it. Because that means I had that many more magical Christmases. I love little kids for believing. It is a trait I want.