December 25, 2014
Santa Claus throughout my history, had been a significant presence as well as a disappointing figure for me. He was the first figure in my life, where I realized that I have been had. My mother told me stories that she either heard Santa around the household, or saw him fly over our house the night before Christmas. I believed her because she didn’t over-do it with the description. She was neither excited or shocked to see Santa in the neighborhood. I, on the other hand, still remember waiting for the appearance of Santa, and not really being able to sleep that night. One can’t over-estimate the importance of a Christmas morning for a child. It was the one day where everything seemed right with the world.
My earliest memory of Christmas was waiting for my dad to wake-up. Of course, I wanted to tear into the packages as soon as possible - but my dad always seemed to over-sleep that particular date of the year. I’m now convinced it was a mild form of torture of some sort. As he slept that morning, I did nothing but look under the Christmas tree, trying to somehow send ESP messages for him to wake up. I even remember going into the bedroom, and sitting on the floor to see the first sign of eye-movement on his part. Nothing. He was truly asleep. How is that possible, that it is Christmas, and for whatever reason he’s still asleep? That didn’t make sense to me as a child, and I have to admit it still bothers me 50 years later.
The Christmas of 1965 stands out because that was the Christmas where I remember every present. A “Man From U.N.C.L.E." set with toy machine gun, membership card, and I think a badge. Also from Dean Stockwell, I received the albums Rolling Stones’ “Out of Our Heads, ” “Herman Hermits on Tour, ” and The Animals “Animalism.” I remember those presents because three or four days after Christmas, our house was totally destroyed by a mud slide. Not only that I lost those presents, but I also lost all my clothing, furniture, and documents that proved that I existed in this world. It was the first time that I realized that objects that I own, can be destroyed or taken away from me. It had a profound affect on me, with respect to possessing things. And though I can remember what my parents got me that Christmas, I have no memory of what Santa brought me.
Nevertheless it is best not to be bitter after all these years, and that wasn’t exactly the worst thing that happened regarding the issue of Santa Claus. When I was in school, in fact in a school room, a fellow student blurted out that Santa didn’t exist. At the time, this struck me as being absurd. Of course Santa exists, because he was seen in our neighborhood, as well as hand delivering my presents for the last ten or eleven years. But by that afternoon I realized that something was up. Now come to think of it, Santa’s handwriting (he always left a card with his gift) seemed to resemble my mom’s handwriting. That was the moment when I realized that Santa didn’t exist. Once my fellow student pops the Santa balloon, then common sense kicked in. I didn’t feel exactly bad, but my world was altered in the sense that Santa was the only figure that I sort of believed in. I never had a belief in God, angles, ghosts, spirits, or to be honest, Jesus. But I did have faith in Santa Claus. Losing our home in such a brutal manner, and realizing that Santa didn’t exist, changed me from being a boy to becoming a teenager. It was the long tunnel that I had to enter, and I did enter, and I came out at the end of the tunnel.