A letter arrived…

Earlier tonight, Jonathan came in with the mail after we got back from the gym – with a postal surprise in tow. A letter for Russ – addressed to “Russell Wilhoit.” With two stamps! Postmarked from…could it be? The North Pole? Oh my gosh, Russ, it’s a letter from Santa!! As my friend Liz says, “SQUEEEEEEEEE!!” I know he doesn’t care about much other than mommy, daddy, clean diapers, boobies, and his glowy seahorse soother toy right now. But in another year or two, he might think that’s pretty cool that he got mail from Santa Clause. 🙂

Seriously though, this reminds me in such a heartwarming and wonderful way of when I was a kid. Jake and I used to write Santa a very detailed and sincere letter and leave it with the milk and cookies on Christmas Eve. Inevitably, we would always find a reply letter from Santa, usually written on the flipside of the paper, in handwriting that looked suspiciously (but not identical enough to draw questions from elementary school age kids) like my dad’s handwriting. I’d recognize those Ts and Fs anywhere. I chalked it up to coincidence, though, until at least age 9 or 10. Yes, that’s right…I believed in Santa Clause until almost middle school and I don’t care what anyone thinks about it. Hey, my junior year of college pretty much erased any illusion I had left about the world, but there was a day far in some distance past life of mine where Santa Clause existed, the meals were cooked for me, and there was “always a bigger bed to crawl into” (I’ll give credit where it’s due – that is a Taylor Swift lyric…don’t judge me).

Do you remember Christmas as a kid? Do people really forget that stuff as adults? I hope I never do. My parents always managed to make Christmas amazing and so magical for us – even when we were young kids and my family sometimes struggled with money. That’s the kind of magic I cannot wait to give Russ. Well, that and of course a couple of really break-out-the-video-camera-hilarious reactions to presents they find on Christmas morning. I remember one year when I was maybe 7 or 8 where Jake and I decided we HAD to have a trampoline, and on Dec. 23rd or 24th, no less. I think we both kind of expected that it might be the next Christmas before we got the trampoline, since we knew it was really late in the game.

“Maybe Santa won’t be able to make it to the store in time,” Jake said in his adorable preschooler-ness. We just sort of assumed it was a loss for that year and, when we wrote Santa about the trampoline in our traditional Christmas Eve letter, figured it was a waste of our time. Christmas morning came – and I think we even had a little snow on the ground, which is a big freakin’ deal in South Carolina at Christmas time – and we opened all kinds of amazing presents. Somehow Santa knew about everything we wanted! How did he know? Geez, that guy was good at his job! Then we saw that he’d left us a reply on our letter. The trampoline didn’t even cross my mind.

We started reading it out loud – a greeting, some usual Santa-type niceties, told us to be good during the next year, and that he loved us and was proud of us for being so well behaved (HA! CLEARLY Santa was real, because if he’d been my mom or dad like the kids at school said, we knew he would never have written that), etc. It was signed

Your’s Truly,

Santa Clause

P.S. One more thing. Look in the backyard.

Jake looked at me as if we were Ralphie and his brother in “A Christmas Story” and the last package behind the tree looked suspiciously like a Red Ryder B.B. Gun. We practically ran over each other running for the double window over the kitchen table. And there it was – black, springy material with red, white, and blue cushions around the perimeter – a long, octagonal trampoline. YES!

I never bothered to look at my parents’ faces at the time, but now that I have a little boy of my own – and so many Christmases to look forward to – I can only imagine how much fun it was for them. That trampoline had a really good, really complex little life. A gaggle of neighborhood kids, sloshing around on it in the summertime with a sprinkler underneath, trying to keep cool in the Southern summer sun. A bunch of girls, sitting on it in a circle, giggling and gossiping. An 11 year old me, stunned and suffering after one of my childhood friends unexpectedly passed away, finding an odd sort of comfort in laying on the trampoline by myself at sunset and staring up at the sky.

And all that from a gift that two kids decided they just had to have, two nights before Christmas. A lot of amazing little things start when you let your childrens’ imagination go to place that adults no longer afford themselves. Santa Clause is a little piece of magic for kids to have, in a world that is almost constantly telling children they need to grow up faster and faster.

2 thoughts on “A letter arrived…

  1. Great post! Joseph and I were discussing how we would approach Christmas with our children Santa or no Santa?
    He grew up knowing Santa was not real, his parents told them the history of St. Nicholas but as far as believing in the jolly man with a red suit? Nada.I grew up totally believing in him and there was so much joy and magic that came with believing.
    Joseph hates the idea of lying to our children. I disagree that “lying” about Santa is a bad thing…I mean, I grew up completely okay and without a “you lied to me” complex towards my parents.
    There is a beauty and magic that comes with believing in Santa, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy. Heck…even believing that Cinderella and the mice really exist.
    It is called childhood and that is something that I am trying to explain to Joseph.
    I will definitely encourage him to read your post.


  2. Aww, well, I can't sit here and act like Jonathan and I haven't had that same exact discussion – and he feels a bit more like Joseph does! His parents told him Santa Clause wasn't real when he was maybe 8 or 9, I think, and he did just fine – no scarred childhood or anything like that. My parents knew I stopped believing in Santa when I was maybe 10 or so, but it was always a running joke in our house for them to say “If you don't believe, you don't receive…hehe.” So even at age 19, in front of my little nieces and nephews, we were like “What? Of course there's a Santa Clause!” (wink wink, cough cough).

    When our kids are older and start asking questions about Santa Clause, we've talked about maybe just telling them that Santa Clause isn't about a man in a suit, but a spirit of giving that is the central part of Christmas. We might use that as an opportunity to let our kids be “Santa” to someone else, maybe by donating toys to a toy drive, or by taking a load of groceries to the soup kitchen in Greer or something like that. But I'm with you – I loved that magic about the holidays. I had such a wild imagination as a child (heck, still do, even in my 20s), it just wouldn't have been quite the same without that little bit of whimsy at the holidays. To this day, my mom still addresses the tags on Christmas morning packages as “To Becky/Jake/Dad, from Santa/Rudolf/Mrs.Clause/Blitzen, etc.” I do the same thing – Russ's packages this year are “from” Santa, Mrs. Clause, and several reindeer, haha! I love it.

    I'm sure whatever you guys decide to do, your kids will be just fine because they have to amazing, caring, loving parents. Things like this are wonderful, but they simply do not define a child the way that a devoted parent/set of parents do. 🙂


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