“In that moment, all of the childlike wonder of magical things completely flew out the window.”
This is Cassandra, describing losing Christmas.
It was Christmas Eve and Santa came to our house on a surprise visit. I was so excited. I had no idea he was coming, he was just all-of-a-sudden there. He used the door, which I thought was kind of strange. Isn’t he supposed to come in the chimney? But then I thought about it later and we didn’t really have a chimney so he couldn’t have come in that way.
Some of my very first memories ever are Christmas: the twinkling lights hanging, the ornaments, finding the perfect tree and decorating it, all of the smells of awesome things baking in the oven, going sledding with my brother and making snowballs with chocolate milk and eating them. I think that probably my favorite memories are of decorating the tree naked. (laughs) Yes, naked—completely butt ass naked. I have a picture here of me and my dad decorating the tree. For a while there, my parents would scold me for running around in the nude, but I was just one of those kids that didn’t like wearing clothes. I just didn’t like it.
So anyways, I really liked Christmas. I was always…I don’t know, everything was just so sparkly and magical at Christmas time. I loved being read stories. I think that Christmas stories were my favorite. Looking back on them now, they’re kind of weird stories about this big fat guy in a suit squeezing down chimneys, leaving free toys in peoples houses, and eating their food. It just seems kind of strange.
I don’t remember how old I was, but I was riding home from school on the bus. One of the kids on the bus told me that Santa was fake, and that parents lied to their kids about it—it’s just something that adults made up to get kids to behave themselves. I thought, she has to be full of crap. There’s no way. I mean, how many times in my life have I actually met Santa face-to-face? She’s lying to me! How could this possibly be true?!
I started to get really upset about it. I was pissed at her, and I thought, there’s no way. She has to be lying. And then I tried to reason with her a little bit, and that wasn’t working. She was definitely convinced that there was absolutely no Santa. “Go home and ask your mom. She gonna tell you.” She said. And I thought about her credibility. She always seemed to have pretty good information, and her stories always ended up checking out. So I thought, maybe there is something to this. I don’t know, I’ll just have to investigate more. The longer I sat on the bus after that, the more angry I got. I just wasn’t sure yet who to be angry at…myself or her or my parents. If it was true, they had been lying to me this whole time. I started to get really mad.
Right when I got home I started quizzing my mom straight to her. I told her what I found out and asked her. There was waaaay too long of a hesitation, and she looked heinously guilty. I started freaking out.
IT’S TRUE! I KNEW IT! OH MY GOD!!
I’ve been had and I am so pissed off. I was seething rage. I said, “So who was that if it wasn’t Santa?”
And she confessed, sadly, that it was my father dressed in a Santa costume. How much of an idiot am I that I didn’t realize that it was my own father?! He talked to us. I cuddled with him. I had my picture taken with him. He gave us presents. He stayed for several hours, and I never realized that it was my own father dressed in a suit. I was really mad. I had been completely had. I felt really stupid. In that moment, all of the childlike wonder of magical things completely flew out the window. I lost that feeling that their kids have that their parents are completely godlike—all knowing and completely trustworthy. All of that was completely lost and I started to question everything.
How many times had they told me never to lie to them or tell a lie in general…or even my favorite which was: “Lying will get children on Santa’s naughty list.” I felt so manipulated. What else had they lied to me about? I was as suspicious of the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy. They always seemed kind of weird, but now everything was suspect. I didn’t trust anything that my parents said after that. I was completely beside myself.
I feel like that was the turning-point in my life, and when I started becoming and adult. There was now that little wedge between my parents and myself. I didn’t completely trust them anymore. They were humans. They were fallible…stupid even. And I was mad! I was so mad at them!
So I feel like, losing Christmas wasn’t exactly a bad thing. It was very positive for me because it taught me to think for myself, separate as a individual independent person from my parents. That was really the first time that I had started doing that, when I realized that Santa wasn’t real.
Losing Something by Jody Stephens is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.