When did I first learn that there was no Santa Claus? Well, to be honest, Mrs. Frobisher, the answer is, just now. Right when you gave the class that essay prompt.
And, looking around the room, I guess I’m the only one. When you, Mrs. Frobisher, told us to “investigate that memory,” my classmates just smiled knowingly. They were already pecking away at their laptops while you explained about “sensory detail” and “the innocent perspective of childhood.” Meanwhile, I sat there with my mouth open. No Santa? What the hell?
I honestly don’t know what to think right now.
I mean, in a way it all makes sense. Christmases at my house were always up and down; sometimes I got nearly everything on my list, and sometimes it seemed like my letters never even reached the North Pole. Mom said Santa had a hard time some years, what with all of those reindeer and elves to feed.
But, seriously, I’m almost eighteen, and this is how I find out? In this writing class that I didn’t want to take anyway, but only wound up in because Biology was full? Stuck sitting next to that dick Bradley Turner for a whole semester? And now you drop this bomb on me?
This is the worst writing prompt yet, even worse than “write about what scares you” and “when did you first understand death.” I hope this doesn’t affect my grade, but what the hell, Mrs. Frobisher? Do you get off on reading about other people’s pain?
Now that I think about it, the years when I didn’t get any toys were also the years when Dad wasn’t working. Huh.
But wait — that can’t be right. There’s the time Santa accidentally delivered one of my presents to Mr. Stickley next door. I remember because that was the year I asked for a Furby, but when my dad saw that on my list, he said it was a girls’ toy, and didn’t I want a GI Joe instead. I told Dad no, Furbys were cool, they were robots, but he just shook his head and went to Uncle Jim’s house.
Keep your eyes on your own screen, Bradley Turner. Yeah, I can see you looking.
Anyway, when I didn’t get a Furby under the tree, I was so crushed! But then the next morning, after Dad went to work, Mr. Stickley came over. He had a brand-new Furby, a blue one, just like I wanted. He said Santa must have confused our addresses. I was so happy! I remember jumping up and down, with that awesome Furby in my hands, while Mr. Stickley and Mom watched. She was so grateful for the delivery, she gave him a great big hug — even a kiss! She must not have even minded the fish smell (Mr. Stickley works in the seafood department at Wegmans), but maybe that’s why she was crying a little bit. Mr. Stickley put his hand on my head and said, “I’m glad you’re happy, son.” It was kind of weird, but okay. We were all just so happy that Santa had remembered me.
I loved that Furby. Even after Dad accidentally ran over it, I kept the pieces in a box in my room.
So no, Mrs. Frobisher, I don’t think I accept the validity of your essay prompt after all.
In fact, I know Santa’s real — because I saw him, in my own house! I was younger, about five, and I was so wired on Christmas Eve that I couldn’t sleep. Dad wasn’t home — that was back when he moved in with Uncle Jim for a while, before he left for good — so I thought I could sneak downstairs and wait for Santa. I crept into the living room, moving slow and quiet like the mouse in the poem — and I saw him! This big, jolly shape next to the fireplace! Up against the fireplace, actually, but definitely shaking like a bowl full of jelly. It was hard to see; the tree was partly blocking my view, but I could make out a man’s boots, and I could hear him laughing…not exactly “ho ho ho.” More like heavy breathing. I mean, carrying all those toys is hard work — no wonder the guy gets out of breath!
I thought if he saw me he’d put me on the naughty list, so I ran back to my room. I think he heard me, though, because when I banged into a table, the “ho ho ho”-ing stopped, and a few seconds later Mom came into the room to check on me. She said I needed to stay in bed and let Santa finish his magic. After she kissed me, I was so happy, but I remember I had weird dreams about Santa’s sleigh being pulled by giant fish, I guess because when Mom kissed me she smelled like —
Oh. Oh, god.
Bradley Turner, if you don’t stop snickering over there, I swear I will end you.