So here is Christmas, and I am recalling a time long ago when we used the broomstick to open the basement storage room door hook and eye closure to explore. We discovered more than we bargained for in that room. Under the bed where Dad slept at odd times, probably because he was in the doghouse. I imagine this, because it could be quite damp down there, and one would otherwise not voluntarily sleep in the room. We found a treasure trove of gifts, which led me to a single, bittersweet conclusion. Santa Claus is not real! He was, in fact, my parents.
At the same time, I was so very pleased to find a cookie book of recipes and a cookie press, a deluxe version of scrabble, a ski hat and gloves, and a rock hammer and bag. My brothers found treasures on their Christmas lists. We hurriedly scuffled the booty back under the bed before Mother pulled into the driveway, swung from a rope tied to a rafter on the other side of the room a few times and exited, Lin standing on Dan’s shoulders to replace the hook in the eye, and erasing all evidence that we had ever been there.
My brother Dan has no guile. He has always been a follower. A sheep. So we told him what to say and do. Until the guilt overcame him. He cried. And he told Mother how sorry he was about there being no Santa Claus.
And her fury came down upon me and Lin like a tornado. She dragged us into that room and watched us wrap those gifts for local homeless children. She packed us into the car crying and drove us to the shelter where we gave away our precious gifts! I have never felt so humiliated or confused in my life since. I am convinced this experience made me disaster proof for later crises. When bad things happen, my blood pressure drops, my heart rate slows, time moves differently, and I feel little of anything, thanks to mother and the Santa Claus crisis of years ago. While others panic, I calmly watch in superior fascination. I bet I would fail a psychopath test.
We drove home in silence. Faces crusty and a bit dirty with dried tears. All the time wondering what would happen on Christmas morning.
We had Christmas Eve with Grandma. The dinner was marvelous. And we opened clean new pajamas. I imagine for the photographs of our sad faces. In the morning under the tree were three gigantic lumps of coal. But under the couch cushions were wrapped gifts! New gifts. Things not on our lists. My Dad had convinced Mother that ruining Christmas because we were curious, unsupervised twits was out of the question. We learned a hard lesson, but a good one. And somewhere, maybe a girl with no home, was reading cookie recipes and dreaming of making them sometime. Erstwhile, I was wearing ski mittens, not gloves, on the slopes with my Dad, who insisted I have fun anyway.