It's Clouds Illusions I Recall

Children hate Santa. It's true.

Never once has a child under four sat in his lap of their own volition. Never has a child over the age of 8 sat in his lap and been completely sold on the idea. Santa has a very small margin for error in his job.

Children like Santa the way Tiger Woods likes being married....in theory. The idea is nice, but the practical application is just creepy. He smells like dusty beer and cheese and dirty diapers. He takes your order and then makes you wait forever to bring it to you. Santa is the all-night-breakfast diner in the skanky part of town with the 5 hour wait for stale pancakes that you, and every other under-dressed drunk person in your metropolitan area, only go to after 17 shots of Jager at some club you're entirely too old to be at anyway.

I took my kids to that diner last night.

I had to carefully negotiate this event with my oldest. He doesn't want to believe, but after the events of last year, he's pretty sure he has some solidly empirical proof. I had to show him every picture we've ever had with Santa, the ones I keep all in one frame, and point out that he is the only child in all 11 pictures. I had to puppy-dog eye him and remind him that this is the only picture I get every year with all of my babies, and that I realize he knows it isn't the real Santa, but a big fat weird elf, like Buddy only not as awesome, but maybe he could just do me this one solid and I'd make sure the real Santa heard about his kindness and charitable actions towards his mother?

I also reminded him that his sister finally gets it, and it's our job as a family to keep this going. To make her believe that the guy in his brother's school right now is the real Santa, so that she can have the magic he and his brother had when they were her age.

Pulling the 'magic of childhood' card on that kid works Every. Fucking. Time. He even smiled for the picture. Kind of.

My 9 year old was ALL ABOUT IT, because he is ALL ABOUT EVERYTHING ALL OF THE GODDAMN TIME. Except homework. Fuck homework. He, of course, spent the better part of the evening repeatedly asking me if I believed in Santa, hoping to trip me up and get me to admit the truth. I know he knows. I also know that he's entirely too smart to ever admit that he knows. I'm a cheap bastard, and he wants a iPod touch someday. He knows it's Santa or bust around here.

He actually said to me, "I'm asking for DJ Hero and an iPod touch, and if I don't get them, I'll know that Santa isn't real." I guess I have 14 more days of him believing, then, because there's no way in hell. NO WAY.

3of3 immediately shit rainbows and glitter when I told her Santa was at her brother's school. "Santa is my fayborite! He's my bestest fwiend in da whole woiald!" (That's world. She's an 80 year old jewish woman from Brooklyn.) She even let me brush her hair before we left.

We stood in line for 18 hours, and we weren't even drunk so it wasn't any fun. She kept peeking around the corner, "Dayr he is, momma! Dayr's Santa!" We practiced talking to him. "What do you say to Santa first?", I asked them. "Hi Santa, how was your day?" they all replied. "And what are you asking him for?" "Dora skates and flagnard!" "What about that pink DS you've wanted? You can ask for that, too, you know." "No, I only ask for one fing, momma. I ask for DORA SKATES AND FLAGNARD." So, she can't count, enunciate or negotiate. Good thing she's got looks to ride through life on.

Also, what the fuck is flagnard? Anyone?

We watched bazillions of babies sit on his lap and cry. We giggle at the silliness of them all. And then it was her turn. Oh, how fickle the heart of a young girl can be.

She clawed my eyeballs out when I tried to sit her on his lap. She hyperventilated when I walked away. She buried her face into her brother's shoulder and refused to smile for a picture. I made a complete ass of myself and embarrassed the shit out of her, so in a few days, I'll be getting my $7 5X7 stale pancake with one very eager face smiling back at me and two faces full of abject humiliation and disgust at their fool of a mother and the fact that she made them do this ridiculous shit.

But Santa gave her a candy cane, so they were all good by the end. She even told him what she wanted. He looked at me and said, "Flagnard?" and I shrugged. He said, "iPod?" and I said, "You can expect a call from his father telling you he can't have one of those until he's gainfully employed." And then we hugged him goodbye, even the 11 year old whom Santa managed to get, not just a smile but a full on belly laugh out of, and there's your Christmas magic, folks, and with that we were off.

I tucked her into bed later and she said, "Momma, I can't wike Santa" and I asked her why. She said, "Dat's not the weawl Santa, mawwwm" and I asked her how she knew. She said, "He has cwouds all over his face." I tried to explain what a beard is, that daddy has a little brown one and Santa has a big white one, but she said no. "No, momma, day were cwouds, and I don't wike cwouds on faces."

And I don't like trying to figure out what Flagnard is, so I guess we're even.

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

We didn't celebrate Christmas when I was kid, so I never really understood the whole 'believing in Santa' thing.  All I knew was that we were under strict orders to not be the jerks who ruined it for everyone else.  We were never to tell.  I don't know about my brother, but I never told a soul.  One day, just no one believed anymore, and that was that.

I have to admit that I LOVE my kids believing in Santa, and I'm overly sad that it's going to end soon.  I always swore I'd never lie to my kids like that, that I'd never teach them about something as stupid as magical, chubby dudes and flying reindeer, that I was a bigger person than all that.  The reality of it is that I can't get enough of it.  There's something about it that I just find gorgeous and beautiful and meaningful.  Maybe it's just that I never had it, I don't know.

What I do know is that something happened this year that just bought me a hell of a lot of time, and the story is right this way....