Recently I’ve read some commentaries where people told about the moment they first realized there was no Santa Claus. I got to thinking about that, and I couldn’t recall a specific moment when such realization came to me. It’s kind of like I absorbed that wisdom during a progression of maturity. No single event did it.
I’m not sure I ever believed there was a real physical jolly old elf who could drop down the chimney with a Red Ryder BB gun. You see, our fireplace at the old farm house was not very proficient. It smoked more than it heated. So the fireplace was closed up, and we had one of those big iron wood-burning stoves with its smokestack feeding into the chimney.
I do recall specifically the night I tossed a pack of firecrackers in it. When they started going off, people were running from one room to the other, bumping into each other like Keystone Kops, not knowing where they were going or what they were going to do when they got there. I was rolling in the floor laughing. Shortly afterward I learned that Red Camel overalls had very little padding in the seat.
So early on I knew Santa couldn’t get down our chimney. And apparently there are people who still haven’t embraced chimney construction. Almost every year we read about someone getting stuck while trying to climb down a chimney. Hey folks, go measure a flu liner and then check your waist size.
Now I do recall once when someone dressed up in a Santa suit came to our house on Christmas Eve night and scared the hell out of me. For that one moment I thought this character might have heard about the firecracker incident and was there to chastise me in some fashion — you know, that good and bad list thing.
Even though I don’t recall really believing in Santa or a moment when I quashed the concept that there was one, I do recall specific Christmases. I remember one at a very early age where I got a toy rake and hoe as a gift. Later on in life I realized that this was probably a move on the part of my dad to get me ready for the real thing. You see, we were farmers, and by the time I was 10 I was in the peanut field with my own “big boy hoe” chopping cockle burrs. Smart move on my dad’s part. Hoe! Hoe! Hoe!
But even though I didn’t really believe in a Santa, I didn’t go around expounding on the subject. It’s a good story, and it means well. I’ve read the old “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” letter many times, and I grasp that it’s about a concept of love, sharing and goodwill. And I can embrace the metaphor if not the fat man in the red suit.
Also I realize there are some among us who probably think that a metaphor is something you put on a cold sore, and they need to believe literally. That’s just the way things are. Or as Leonard Hofstetler on the “Big Bang Theory” said in one episode while disguised as a hobbit, “That’s how we roll in the Shire.”
I guess maybe it’s a good thing that my understanding of the Santa thing was a gradual progression. Sometimes, when something happens so abruptly, it can be traumatic. And depending on one’s mental acuity, therapy might be required. One day such a person might find himself on a therapist’s couch discussing such thoughts of betrayal.
I think maybe that old song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” helped some youngsters begin to make the transition from North Pole mythology into the real world. However, some may have had a relapse on the subject with a more recent follow-up titled, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”
Whatever, I wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
Walden is the editor/publisher of the Moultrie Observer.