I found out this week that my husband’s family never believed in Santa Claus growing up. That Jason and his siblings never experienced the magic of believing in an elderly man who broke in to your home in the middle of the night, ate all your cookies and drank all your milk, then left to case out the neighbors’ houses, saddens me. I have many happy memories of my sister and I being huddled together in the pre-dawn hours, wondering if this was the year Santa was going to slit a few throats during his midnight cookie raid. I can’t believe anyone would deprive their children of that!
We didn’t have a fireplace in our house, so I would often wonder how Santa was going to get in. What we did have was a furnace flue, which, if you followed it from the outside in (logically, the way Santa would be traveling) ended in a rather blistering wood stove. It was a mystery to me how Santa would be able to crawl out of that wood stove fast enough to avoid being roasted alive. Mom said it was magic. Dad would just give a hearty “ho-ho-ho, let’s see the fat boy get out of this mess!” and stoke the fire. These are the types of quality holiday scenes that have been with me my whole life, and Jason didn’t have any of that. It breaks my heart to think of all he missed out on.
And I would be remiss not to mention Santa's eight reindeer, which in our house, calculated out to about 1200 pounds of meat. In the days leading up to Christmas, Dad would turn in to Bubba Blue from Forrest Gump, listing off all of the fantastic recipes he would prepare if he could just get a clean shot on Christmas Eve. Reindeer gumbo, reindeer marsala, reindeer stroganoff, reindeer stew...Dad was a natural chef. This resulted in years of therapy for my sister and I that Jason never had the joy of experiencing, poor kid.
I was one of those kids who professed to believe in Santa long after my peers did. Sure, I was beaten up at recess quite a bit, and nobody wanted to sit with me at lunch time in high school. But the prospect of not believing was just too scary. By that point, I'd watched such holiday classics as You’d Better Watch Out (1980) and Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984). Clearly, Santa was not someone to mess with, and if it meant that I was pelted with fruitcakes in the hallways every Christmas just because I refused to admit Santa wasn’t real, well, it was worth it. Fruitcake washes out pretty easily. Blood and entrails, not so much. This kind of peer interaction is exactly the kind of thing Jason and his siblings missed out on by not having a healthy fear of Santa in the first place.
Some parents like to scare their kids straight at the holidays by teaching them about Krampus, a vicious satyr who beats wicked children and eats them for dinner if they’ve been particularly naughty. I say, who needs Krampus when you’ve got Santa, master of breaking and entering, immune to the police, and capable of particularly brutal violence should a child stop believing? Sit the kids down for a screening of Santa’s Slay (2005) and you’ll never have yuletide behavioral problems again. Jason, Joy, and Bret missed out on all of that. I feel sorry for them, really.
Happy Holidays, everyone!