I used to love Christmas. The entire season was magical and almost hypnotic, something to look forward to all year. Now? Now I just think it's a huge pain in the ass. I'll tell you what I like. I like the idea of Santa, jiggly jello belly and unruly facial hair, going about his business from the North Pole all year long, delegating toy-making tasks to his minion of elves while he meticulously checks, rechecks, his list. I like to think of Mrs. Claus, puttering around the kitchen in her apron and halo of curly silver hair, her only goal to have a batch of cookies fresh from the oven as soon as Santa walks through the door. I stopped believing in Santa aroundabouts my eighth year of life when I woke up Christmas morning and tore down the stairs, only to find out that in addition to the cookies I left out for Santa, he devoured a whole pint of Baskin Robbins Very Berry Strawberry ice cream. MY whole pint of Baskin Robbins Very Berry Strawberry ice cream, might I add. And a twelver of Bud Light. I knew immediately that Santa would not do something like that, not to me. My step dad really dropped the ball that year. Instead of stepping up to bat and admitting that he ate my ice cream and washed it down with a dozen beers after I was asleep, he penned a Thank You note from Santa.
"Dear Nikki, thank you for the delicious cookies. I was still hungry from my long journey, so I hope you don't mind that I helped myself to your ice cream. I know it's your favorite, and I know you had to beg your mom to get it, and I know you were saving it for later, but it was really good. Don't worry about those beer cans, it's Rudolph who drives the sleigh anyway. So yeah, thanks for being such a good girl this year! Next year, try not to be such a smartass to your step dad. He's a cool guy. Love, Santa."
The note might have been convincing, had my step father remembered to disguise his handwriting. So there I was, Christmas morning, wearing pajamas with feet, and realizing that not only did Santa not exist, but my step dad was a real piece of work.
Fast forward almost two decades later, where I find myself, almost comically, on the other side of the chimney. I wish I could have the innocence of my children, and more importantly, the enthusiasm and optimism. I am a Scroogey McScrooge, bah humbugging all over the place. Once you know all the tricks, the illusion isn't so fun anymore. Santa really is just some man in a suit- and I don't even get to sit back and enjoy the show. Now I'm forced into the suit myself; tired, broke, and with an extreme inability to attractively wrap presents. I will put on the Santa show for my children while they're still willing to believe it, because they deserve a little magic. Well, and because "Santa is watching you" motivates them to be a hell of a lot nicer than "because Mommy said so!"
But who's gonna sneak presents under the tree for me? Because I really want a Wii and a Scooba and some new jeans and those Vans I've been lusting after since last March, and I really want to believe that some fat man is just going to give them to me, on account of me being a good girl all year. I almost wish I'd chosen to still believe in Santa, even if that meant accepting him as a fridge-raiding binge-drinker. It's still a whole lot better than Santa being... me.