I don't remember how old I was when I discovered that Santa wasn't real but I remember the circumstances. My Meemaw made me loads of clothes when I was a kid. I had a particular blue floral dress that I really dug. I would wear that thing as much as my Mom let me. On Christmas morning, Santa brought me a doll and a bunch of doll clothes. Amongst the loot was a cute little dress for my doll made out of the exact same fabric as my dress. Aha! I knew that there probably wasn't a Cloth World at the North Pole so I asked my Mom if Meemaw was Santa. (Turns out, everyone is Santa, which is all mushy and gooey and existential.) I felt okay about this and even better about knowing something my sister and cousins didn't except that when I started really thinking about it, it kind of freaked me out. I spent a long time trying to figure out what else would end up not being real. I deduced that things people spoke of but you never saw probably weren't real. For instance, the sky = real. I could see it up there. But, air was decidedly not real. I wondered if I would have to find these things out on my own (like the Santa discovery) or if adults would reveal these lies to me as I got older. Like, for my 9th Birthday, would I find out that mountains were not real? (If you've seen West Texas, you'd understand.) For my 10th, would germs cease to exist?
I'm amused to see kids asking Santa for things and I find it all rather hilarious. I like to see children being bribed into good behavior for the six weeks or so prior to the holiday. I know if I had a kid, I would dutifully lie to him or her and probably laugh at their blind trust in whatever we tell them. I mean, it's funny. But, I still remember being a kid and finding out the truth. Messed up! Awesome! I don't know! Santa is like a culture-wide practical joke. I'm wondering if we can keep all of our nephews believing on into college. If we're really careful, it might be possible. Yeah, they might be social outcasts and they might require a lot of therapy when they get older but think of the hilarity!
*photo by A.Currell.