Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Santa Baby

My kids believe in Santa. So far, I don't know the salient characteristics of this belief -- Wonder? Excitement? Nervousness? Fear? Allie is so young that the few encounters we've had with real-life Santas have made her quite uncomfortable, if not downright afraid. Sean seems excited about the prospect of Santa and rather blasé about the corporeal incarnations we've seen.

Santa has a checkered past as far as I'm concerned. I remember, as a child, feeling both excited and scared on Christmas Eve. Sure, the thought of presents was quite enticing, but knowing that a large man would be invading my house while I was sleeping, possibly tiptoeing into my room to make sure I was asleep? Not the stuff of sugar plum dreams.

Most Christmas Eves we went to my grandparents' house. They lived across the street from us at the time, so we would walk there and back. I vividly recall walking down the front steps on our way home, anxiously scanning the sky for a flying sleigh and reindeer. Was that star moving? Could that be the sleigh? Are those jingle bells I hear? I wanted to get home as quickly as possible so that I wouldn't encounter Santa in person.

I'm not sure how old I was when I stopped believing in Santa. It may or may not have coincided with an extremely unpleasant dream I once had. In the dream, I woke up in the middle of the night because I heard something in the backyard. I opened the shade in my window, and there, hovering in the darkness, were Santa and two demonic-looking elves. I still shudder over this image. I think the dream ended there, perhaps both figuratively and literally.

I don't want to overanalyze Santa right now (there seems to be enough of that going around the blogosphere right now). I want my kids to just enjoy Christmas without having me project my own childhood neuroses onto them. But if they do turn a nervous eye to the sky one Christmas Eve, I know I'll be able to empathize.