I was relieved when I heard that Santa wasn't an actual guy.
See, unlike all those children who were told the truth by older siblings, or got into fights about it on the playground, or happened to wake up and spot Dad helping himself to the cookies left out next to the tree, I wasn't sad or angry; as a matter of fact, my thought was, "Oh boy! That's a relief!".
My parents did the whole Santa bit. I saw the movies, heard the stories, even visited the guy at the mall. I could (and still can) name all of the reindeer. I bought the Santa thing hook, line and sinker. But you also have to understand that I was always a very literal kid. And while I loved the idea of free presents, there were more than a couple of parts of the whole Santa story that just didn't gel for me. In fact, if you think really about it, Santa sounds like a pretty sleazy guy.
Reasons why I was happy when I found out that Santa wasn't a real guy:
Sitting on some strange guy's lap is creepy. When I was in grade school, we used to have people come into the classroom and put on a puppet show about once a month. The cast of puppets included a little boy and girl puppet named John and Jane, and a big orange puppet in a police uniform named Officer Smiley (or some equally original name). Officer Smiley was always teaching the puppet children things like what to do about a school bully, what to do if you were lost, not to take candy from people you didn't know, and here's the kicker, not to sit on a strange man's lap. Now, I took Officer Smiley's instruction very seriously. He was a policeman and a puppet, and everyone knows that puppets do not lie. So what am I to think then when on one day a year, scores of parents drag their children to the local mall to see a bizarrely dressed guy who leans over and goes, "Hey little girl, if you come sit on my lap, I'll give you a candy cane"? Exactly. Pervert alert! Pervert alert! You know why all those kids are crying while their parents forcibly wrestle them on to Santa's lap? Because Officer Smiley specifically told them not to. (Perhaps instead of elves, Santa should have Officer Smiley off to the side, explaining that while you should not sit on any other strange man's lap, this particular guy in red had been cleared by the Puppet Police and could be trusted). So you can understand why the mallSantas freaked me out. I was just glad that the woman in the elf costume was there to get photographic evidence in case it ever went to trial).
He breaks into your house while you are asleep. Blame it on too many episodes of Home Alone, but I was terribly concerned about home security as a kid. And while I understood that Santa was only breaking and entering to leave things as opposed to taking them, it still bothered me. I mean, if an old fat guy could manage it, then the Boogieman wouldn't have a problem either. What if he saw Santa doing his chimney thing and decided to give it a try? It didn't matter if Dad checked under the bed and in the closet before turning out the light. The Boogieman could just bide his time because Santa had shown him how to get in! We might as well have a sign on the door that said "Welcome Boogieman! See Santa for Instructions". Never mind that he himself was breaking and entering, Santa repeatedly blew a gaping hole in our home security! (The fact that this never bothered Mom and Dad boggled the six-year-old mind). Think I'm overreacting? Try this: Just as you're drifting off to sleep tonight, imagine some strange guy slipping cat-like down your your chimney and skulking around your living room with a sack. Freaky, right? I guarantee that you and your trusty baseball bat will be up and checking closets for the rest of the night.
He's always watching you, like some kind of scary Peeping Tom. How many times did you hear some adult saying "Santa is watching you!" when you were a kid? Parents. Teachers. Babysitters. The mantra started sometime around October and ran constantly right up until December 24th. "Santa is watching you!" I was absolutely convinced that Santa was crouched behind the bushes under my window at all times, cherry red nose pressed against the panes. I used to lie in bed and wonder, "Is he out there right now? Why does he care if I'm asleep or awake? What kind of sicko perv watches someone sleep?". I never got out of bed to check though, because who knows what would happen if Santa copped to the fact that you knew that he was there? At best, you'd just get coal for Christmas. At worst, some Arctic explorers find your frozen corpse buried at the North Pole. (This is just another case of Santa getting away with more than your average Joe. Santa's watching your every move? That's fine. Adults encourage that. The creepy neighbor next door tries it? He gets a can of pepper spray to the face). If you ask me though, the "jolly old elf" is a stalker.
All this isn't to say that I didn't like the idea of Santa. And I certainly wasn't going to turn down presents. But it always bothered me that I was the only one who thought that maybe Santa was playing a little fast and loose with the rules. Finding out that it was just my parents and not a magical super-criminal did a lot to put my mind at ease.
Of course now that I'm an adult (with a proper home security system and peep-proof windows), I'm okay with Santa. We've reached an understanding. He doesn't break into my house, stalk me, or make me sit on his lap, and I don't taser him or turn him in to the FBI as public enemy number one. (Plus he still comes through with the presents...he just gives them to my Mom to pass along to me). Paranoid? Maybe. But any guy who has an official song that goes, "You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout and I'm telling you why...Santa Claus is coming to town" is not a guy to be messed with.
Officer Smiley taught me that.
Elizabeth blogs about her brood of kitties, her fantastic hair, and all things quirky at Quirky is a Compliment. She is the sister to one of Danielle's high school gal pals and was the first blog on Danielle's Google Reader.