Call me the trusting sort. When my parents told me that a fellow in a red suit traveled the entire earth in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer and distributed toys to good little boys and girls in a single night, I saw no reason to doubt. After all, the Jolly Old Elf had always been very good to me and my sisters. Who was I to reject the evidence of my own eyes?
So I almost came to blows with a twerpy little boy in my third grade class who had the audacity to claim that Santa Claus was just my parents. Imagine my horror when I asked my dad about it, and he confirmed the twerp’s story.
I was crushed.
And I didn’t believe Dad one bit. After all, Santa visited me twice every year. He very thoughtfully left gifts beneath the tree early at our house. You see, he knew (part of that whole “he sees you when you’re sleeping” bit) we made the annual trek over the river and through the woods to my grandmother’s house for the real Christmas Day. At that time, St. Nick filled our stockings in a second appearance.
Even though my eyes had metaphorically been opened, I was reserving judgement. Sure enough, Santa still came early to my house. So at my grandma’s, I decided seeing would be believing.
My grandma’s home was a perfect Christmas house–a big two story which she decorated with sweet-smelling greenery on the bannister, wreaths with candles in every window and the biggest tree she could shove through the door. It was festooned with angel hair and strings of those mesmerizing “bubble” lights. The only thing missing was a fireplace. However, my grandmother solved that problem by erecting a surprisingly sturdy cardboard fireplace in the living room each year. Its corrugated fiberboard mantle was lined with all our stockings.
How Santa managed to enter the house through that fireplace was one of the great mysteries of my childhood. However, as you’ve already guessed, I was willing to take it on faith.
That Christmas, I waited in the bed I shared with my younger sister till the rest of the household finally quieted. When I heard a rustling in the living room below, I knew the moment of truth had arrived. I slipped from bed and crept down a few steps so I could peer through the fir boughs on the bannister.
There before the cardboard fireplace was my sweet little grandma. She was filling the stockings–a juicy orange in the toe, a handful of nuts still in the shells, some candy canes and foil-wrapped butter rums, a small toy or a doll, a package of hair ribbons for the girls and a comb for the boys. Everyone would love pawing through their new treasures the next day.
I padded back to bed, taking care not to be caught wandering. I felt older. Wiser. I knew for certain that there was no Santa Claus, but surprisingly I wasn’t sad. I had something better.
I had a grandmother who loved me.
How did you learn the truth about Santa? Or do you still believe? Share and you’ll be entered in the drawing for Mia’s My Lady Below Stairs!
Nobody misses Lord & Lady Hartwell’s Christmas Ball, but they all go for different reasons. When Lady Sybil runs off with an Italian portrait painter, her bastard half-sister Jane Tate goes in her place. Lord Eddleton plans on proposing to “Sybil” under the mistletoe. Lady Darvish is on the hunt for her fifth husband.
And Ian Michael MacGarrett, the head groom with more than horseflesh on his mind, is determined to show Jane that love doesn’t have to pretend.