Santa Memories

Janice Daniels

When I was 12 years old, I was the oldest person I knew who still believed in Santa Claus. Most of my friends had parents who took them aside at 5 years old and happily told them the truth, but for some reason my parents waited forever to cut the cord.

Just when I was getting close to the “I don’t believe” finish line as a 9-year-old, my parents planted a trick that extended my belief for an additional three years.

It was Christmas Eve and my younger brothers and I had just got finished setting out cookies for Santa Claus and we were watching our dad sprinkle flour in front of the fireplace to capture Santa’s footprints.

As I freakishly mentioned over and over again “Santa is coming!,” my 5 and 7-year-old brothers looked at me like I was a complete psycho who was in need of desperate help.

I fell asleep that night while watching a Christmas episode of X-Files and cuddled up to my teenage sister, Priscilla.

Midst of the night, I was slightly awoken to the sound of bells jingling by my bedside. My eyes were blurry and I wasn’t completely conscious, but I remember seeing the fuzzy profile of a large man in a bright red suit standing by my bed; he had bells in his left hand. Without really thinking about what was going on – and still in a dreamy state – I smiled and quickly fell back asleep.

In the morning, my dad frantically woke up the household yelling, “Someone broke in!”

I came running out to the living room to see many footprints in the flour and crumbled cookies all over the floor.

“It was Santa!” I began telling everyone, “ I saw him last night by my bed!”

I remember this morning like it was yesterday. My dad was sitting in the kitchen pretending to be on the phone with police officers – while nibbling one of those jumbo candy canes – as I tried to comfort everyone with my experience, assuring them it was only Santa Claus and not robbers who marked footprints in the flour.

Years after this experience, I was still telling people about it – a teacher even laughed in my face once – because my parents let me believe it was true for so long.

By the time age 12 came around, I felt like a complete nut and wanted to know the truth. So, I asked my sister Priscilla about it and she finally spilled the beans.

What I thought was Santa was actually my dad dressed up in a Santa suit – I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner -and the entire thing was of course, an act.

To this day, though, my vision of the man I saw standing beside my bed is still not my dad. I don’t know if it was the fact that I was half asleep when I saw him standing there in long black boots and bells in his hand – I never did see his face – but the feeling I got from it was somewhat magical.

To this day I have never seen the red suit I thought I saw “Santa” wearing that night. I have scavenged high and low through my dad’s closet and have described it in great detail to him, but what I saw and what he said he was wearing are completely different.

Perhaps what I saw that night was simply my childish imagination making a not-so-cool Santa (sorry, Dad) into a Santa with all the right accessories. Maybe it was only a dream – a figment of my imagination – that felt like real-life. But what if – call me crazy – it was actually Santa? I suppose I’ll never really know.

Janice Daniels can be reached at [email protected]