Yesterday when I was feeling down in the dumps, I tried to improve my mood by thinking about Christmas things that made me happy. I started by re-watching the video of Annie’s Christmas song about Santa, then let my mind drift to memories of when I was a kid and believed in Santa 100%. As I thought about those happy days I realized they really were among the very best Christmases we get to experience.

When my brother and I were little my Dad borrowed a Santa suit and surprised us. We, of course, had no idea it was him and couldn’t believe that we were meeting Santa live and in the flesh.

with "Santa"

There is very old video of Kyle and me squealing when Santa comes down the stairs from the second story of our house. My mom always tears up when we watch it, but all I can think is “man, I was so accepting of the fact he didn’t come down the chimney!” Little Heather? Kinda dumb.

And then of course, there are the pictures with Santa at the mall:

with Santa

Kyle, Santa, Heather

Both of those Santas give me the heebie jeebies.

I asked Mike about his memories and he told me about the day his Mom took him and his sister to the mall and snapped this photo:

Monica, Santa, Mike
sweet ‘stache, Santa

Mike, upon getting in line to meet Santa, was very stressed about making sure he told Santa EVERYTHING he wanted, so he memorized the following message: “Hi Santa, I really want a new baseball glove and that ET video game for the Atari.” The line to meet Santa was really long though, so by the time he got to the front he had thought of ten or eleven additional gifts he wanted too. As a result his once pithy message now was closer in length to a Presidential Address. Santa, after listening to Mike breathlessly recount the whole thing, just laughed and said, “Yeah, you better tell your parents all that stuff too, kid. I don’t think Santa will be able to remember it all.” Mike laughs at this story now, but at the time it was all pretty exciting, especially when Santa or, er, his parents, got him that baseball glove he wanted so badly.

Sadly, the magical time when we believe Santa is real comes to an end for all of us eventually. For me it came when I was seven-years-old and was innocently looking at (counting) the presents for me under the tree. It was several days before Christmas, yet I found a couple underneath the tree marked “Love, Santa!”

“Wait a minute,” I thought. “How can a gift be here from Santa already?”

I confronted my Gramma who suggested I was silly to think Santa brought all of his presents on Christmas Eve. Nice cover, Gramma, but I was totally suspicious. I brought it up to my brother, who said, “I know. Yesterday I read something in TV Guide about Santa not being real!” For Mike the dirty news about Santa came at the hands of a know-it-all older kid down the block. The older boy explained Santa was fake, and then just to drive it home, told Mike the true story of where babies come from.

While I realize no kid will believe in Santa forever (except maybe for Brittany on “Glee”), I sure hope I can keep the magic alive long enough for Annie to have a number of incredible Christmases. In this modern world of technology and media it won’t be as easy as it was for our parents. I’m not sure how we’ll do it for our kids, but you can be sure I’ll find a way. I hope you do too!

Also, I really wish I could get my hands on all those awesome plaid pants. Yay 70s!