By AMANDA BEAM
The jig is up. My husband and I have been caught red-handed. Actually, more like white-gloved if you want to get technical.
Our little Grinch in training figured out the real identity of Santa Claus over the weekend. All it took was a quick query on Google, and some lousy website run by a 40-year-old blogger who most likely still lives with his mother.
Faster than a miniature sleigh driven by eight tiny reindeer, the kid who can never find matching socks discovered one of the best kept secrets in all of parentdom, and left me scrambling for an alibi.
Oh, sure, we had a good run; 11 years almost with the first boy. That’s not too bad given Bonnie and Clyde, as notorious as they were, barely lasted two.
Our demise came with a slew of accusatory glares rather than a barrage of bullets, though at times I wonder if the latter might have felt a little better. No mother wants to be responsible for taking away any of the magic of childhood, even when she provided that enchantment to begin with.
Of course, there’s no denying the 9-year-old who cracked the case always had his sneaky suspicions. Too often he tried to follow the trail of cookie crumbs and nab that jolly old elf on Christmas Eve night. He was the one who would always peek out from the bedroom doorway, devising plans to get photos of the yearly break-in.
Booby traps were laid. Methods of capture devised. Legos, small but skin piercing, were strewn about the floor like mines on a battlefield.
Santa would howl after stepping on them, he thought, sounding an alarm that would wake the whole house. Instead, his father cursed softly under his breath vowing never to get that kid Legos again.
Early in the mornings — after the presents had been opened and dreams had been fulfilled — the questions always began, as did the cover up.
“So, how does Santa get around the world in just a day?” asked our modern-day Sherlock, a candy cane stuck between his lips where a pipe should be.
“According to NORAD, he works in a different space and time continuum. It’s the same reason he never ages,” I said. “Maybe he’s an alien from Mars. That’s why the government is really tracking him.
“You’ve heard about illegal aliens, right? They suspect Lady Gaga might be one as well.”
The kid would think and stare.
“What about those reindeer? None that I’ve ever seen can fly.”
“You haven’t been around an atomic meltdown, have you, boy?” I asked. “Santa fuels his shop through a nuclear power plant. Some runoff found its way into the water supply, which the reindeer slurped. The radioactive liquid somehow altered their DNA giving them gravity-defying powers and Rudolph’s glowing red nose. Think Spiderman with antlers and fur. Same thing happened to the Easter Bunny.”
“Yeah, well, where does Santa get all the money to make the presents?”
“Royalties from having his image commercialized supply a lot of the funds. Why else would he be seen in a used car ad?” I said. “Good investments have helped too. The big guy even owns the majority of shares in Coca-Cola. Plus, unlike most CEOs, Santa works for cookies. Not a bad gig really.”
Story upon story would be told until the boy would be satisfied enough to leave us, and old St. Nick, be.
But none of the elaborate tales will work any longer. Really, I’m not sure how they worked so well in the first place, other than the fact that children, despite their natural curiosity, yearn to believe, too.
Before school this morning, the boy came into my room and asked “Why’d you lie to us, mom?”
For once, I didn’t know what to say. I could have told him that it was tradition, and I didn’t want them to miss out on the fun, or that their father and I got as much joy putting the gifts together late on those Christmas Eve nights as they did opening them the next morning. Or perhaps, maybe, just maybe, we wanted them to trust that this world was filled with magic and wonder at least one day a year.
Gathering my thoughts, I finally spoke.
“You know, if you don’t believe in Santa, he’s not going to bring you a gift. And if you don’t mention a word of this to your sister, you might find a little extra candy in the ol’ stocking. ”
Without a beat, the kid shouted, “I believe” and scurried away.
Well, haul out the holly. Looks like the Beam Gang might make their midnight ride again once more.
— Amanda Beam is a Floyd County resident and Jeffersonville native. Contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org