Like many kids, I was a Santa Claus believer. We would wake up on Christmas mornings and find candies in our stockings. Gifts were already under the tree waiting to be opened. Never mind if I saw the same wrapping papers on my Mom’s dresser, maybe Santa and Mom just happened to shop in the same stores in Anson’s Cubao or SM Escolta. Hey, maybe my mom knew the guy! After all, didn’t Michael Jackson have a song about his own mom tickling Santa Claus? After interrogating her about it, my mom said she hasn’t seen him and I believed her, she further said that Santa Claus NEVER shows himself to anyone. That became a challenge to me. Nights before Christmas, I would fall asleep waiting for him on the couch beside our Christmas tree. I’d tell everyone to leave the front door unlocked, we didn’t have a chimney and the poor guy’s too old to climb on windows. I just gotta see him! I wanted to speak to him and find out if he really was multi-lingual. How did he understand my letters written in Tagalog? Okay, if he wouldn’t show himself and wanted to be mysterious, fine. Maybe I could just catch a glimpse of the reindeers? Yes, reindeers would be fine. I wanted to see if Rudolph’s nose really glowed in the dark. I always made sure that our garage was clear from any mess for the sleigh’s parking. This would be my mission impossible year after year.
Then the horror of horrors happened one Christmas season when our helper got possessed by the combined spirits of Mr. Scrooge and The Grinch and decided to tell me that “Santa Claus is your Dad.”. Huwaaaattt??!?! I felt sorry for my Dad… How could she squeal my Dad’s little secret! He worked so hard to grow that belly… I didn’t want to hurt Dad’s feelings so I never told him what I just found out. I told our helper “Wag mong sabihin sa kanya na alam ko na ha” (Don’t tell him I already knew).
Things became clearer to me as this development unfolded. For example, this could be the reason why we had a garage but never had a car. It’s for the sleigh! There were times I’d be curious and would sneak to my parents’ bedroom and look for that red suit inside my dad’s closet. One time I asked him, “Daddy, can you say ‘Ho-ho-ho!’?” but he gave me a puzzled look so I just dropped it. Besides, no one should hear him do the Santa laugh while he’s wearing his favorite puruntong shorts. I just gave him my reassuring look and in my mind I was saying “Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me.” The more he looked puzzled. My gosh, he is good! Knowing “the secret” felt like being in the CIA or something. I enjoyed being part of the “connivance team” so much that I would have this all-knowing look over my playmates. “Hah, you better be good or I will tell my Dad not to give you gifts!” I just had some questions though… Where did he keep the reindeers? He knew I always wanted to see Rudolph! Who were his elves?
Fast forward to 2011 and I now have a 5-year old boy who believes in Santa Claus. He gets a small treat in his stocking everyday with Santa’s little note reminding him to study hard, always be polite, eat his vegetables, etc. This routine has been encouraging the Little Boy to get up every morning without any prodding from me. I’m aware of this argument among parents and experts that this “myth” glorifies lying, deception, materialism, etc. My take is, kids should be sat down by the parents and be told about the truth when parents feel that their kids are ready to handle it. Kids can keep on believing as long as they know the REAL reason for the Christmas celebration. After all, Jesus’ birthday is a great, interesting and inspiring story by itself. Meanwhile, let kids be kids. I don’t think this will make a traumatic impact on them when they become adults. I turned out well… I think. 🙂