I Nearly Gave Up On Santa. Here’s What Happened Next

photo credit: Nukamari Preparing Christmas via photopin (license)

I can’t even blame Christmas.

Would it shock you to hear that even though my blog has collected moss like a molasses-slow manatee, I feel more on top of my game than ever? I feel a better grip on my carry-on? I do.

I have faith that this wresting back of control will lead me to hit the publish button soon, and often.

I have ideas – with no expiration dates, thankfully. I still want to write about elephants. I have a Go Ask Daddy thisclose to finished. The six words express steams on. I’m in talks with fantastic writers about guest posts.

And there’s this thing in my head (and on paper) about uniform numbers and the stories behind them.

Christmas, though. It comes at you fast when you’re grown up and paying bills and have crow’s feet. It came slower than a Peyton Manning bootleg when I was a kid. (And back then, Peyton Manning was young.)

On being 12, and Christmas in Texas

Christmas break is when I’ll get some time to write and fling the gym I canceled a membership for off my back and maybe schedule a college visit for Marie. Until then, I found myself thinking about a few Christmas memories.

Some, I’ve written about. Others, not yet.

One happened when I was 12. If you’ve never been a boy of 12, well, that’s when you begin to believe you’re already a man, even if you’re too chicken to talk to a girl in the seventh grade. We might not become men by age 22 or 32 or even 42, but at 12, we’re convinced.

I had Star Wars figures, but no more Star Wars Underoos. I liked dinosaurs, sure, but didn’t have dinosaur toys. They were models. I’d open plenty of Christmas presents. Santa, though? Kid stuff.

We visited my great grandparents in Laredo, Texas, for Christmas that year. We swapped our snow-capped Rockies for Texas border steaminess, shorts sleeves, picking oranges off the tree for a snack.

I knew I’d learn the truth officially that year: Santa’s a farce. A good farce, though, who’d delivered plenty of Star Wars spaceships in his day.

We drove back to Greeley, Colo., after the holiday. We returned to brutal chill and snowdrifts and another rotten Denver Nuggets season. I fully expected the house to look like – January. Devoid of cheer, of charm, of Christmas. Gig up. Sayonara, Santa.

Christmas, everywhere. Santa, safe.

Only, when we got home … we found messes of Christmas.

Stuffed in stockings. Crammed under the tree. Lined up on the mantle. A Seattle Seahawks pennant, and a frosted cookie in team colors. It had to be the work of Mrs. Claus. King Soopers didn’t make stuff like that.

I ran to the house ahead of my lumbering parents, to plant the flag atop Mt. Santasfake.

I found myself on my knees, emptying stockings, perpetuating the faith to my little sister like it was gospel, as true as a Taylor Swift breakup song and just as prolific.

It’s now three days from Christmas Eve.

Between now and then, I’ll have to track down a lids.com order of Christmas gifts, hit up Trader Joe’s for some wine bottles for white elephants and relatives, get Gabi’s oil changed, and maybe even chuck some plastic around the forest a bit.

It’s crucial to hit the brakes. Not literally. Although, Gabi’s need replacing.

Cate and January can wait

I must find time to remember my first Christmas as a dad, bringing home a majestic tree for just $20 in Asheville. It’s blogging friends contributing to holiday-flavored 6-words posts, and one asking me, what’s Christmas mean to a dad?

It’s pancakes, lousy with chocolate chips, loaded with egg nog.

It’s Marie, standing at the bottom of the stairs, hair like a chrysanthemum, pointing gleefully at an unwrapped wooden horse sitting atop a gift box. It’s Elise, winning the cutest baby contest.

It’s Grace, pulling on a parrot suit to patrol the mall Christmas traffic in, getting smiles and glances and other reactions, and the blessings of Santa himself. It’s also what won’t be there, or might not, next time around.

It’s not feeling the hopelessness of 2015.

2016 was a banner year for me, in comparison. It’s not feeling outside socialization to be a chore, despite breakdowns along the way. It’s looking forward to that time, rather than hoping slightly for a virus to ground me to the couch.

It’s realizing movies with Cate Blanchett and January Jones in them are heavenly, but not a substitute for time with family outside the immediate.

Feliz Navidad, y’all

It’s living an existence of appreciation of my kids – but also for them to see. It’s actually having that coffee-cup drop-in holiday party next year, complete with invitations. It’s actually getting Christmas cards out, and small gifts for friends.

With notes. Hand-written notes.

It’s going to be a couple of days on the coast with the girls I love most. It’ll be that restoration and momentum I need, all at once, because I need them both. All at once. Merry Christmas, y’all. Thank you for sharing my space.

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49 thoughts on “I Nearly Gave Up On Santa. Here’s What Happened Next

  1. This was wonderful and heartfelt. It really captures the Christmas spirit: that even though some of us don’t believe in Santa Claus or the aspects of the holiday that make it magical for kids, we adults can still find that magic… just in different places now. Like the twinkle of tree lights, the stories and memories “attached” to each ornament, the artwork on cards, the thoughtfulness of friends and family, and the food (because THE FOOD). It also reminded me of how I found out Santa wasn’t real (it started with the Tooth Fairy; the book that was left under my pillow mistakenly had the receipt in it). It was sad at first, but later I realized how much my parents really did for my brother and I, and it turned to gratitude.

    Merry Christmas to you and your girls, Eli. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Sara. I’ll always believe in the magic, Dec. 25, Aug. 25 and Oct. 25. The food is so integral, as we just made batches and batches of tamales, and it’s a clear week almost from Christmas. Food, because the food.

      What a sweet story of your Tooth Fairy mishap. I could just see you. And it’s advanced thought to assign your parents such credit at a young age.

      I hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas, Sara, and are enjoying your hiatus. See you soon.

      1. “What a sweet story of your Tooth Fairy mishap. I could just see you. And it’s advanced thought to assign your parents such credit at a young age.”

        Well… if I remember how I came to that conclusion years ago (*lol*), my first thought was, “Wait. The Tooth Fairy doesn’t buy books. She just gives them, like Santa does. Right?”

        The hiatus was wonderful, thank you. Hope you enjoyed your holidays as well. 🙂

  2. Wishing you all the joy and magic of this holiday season. Enjoy your time on the coast. I’m looking forward to seeing what January has to bring – but all in due time. Merry Christmas, Eli!

  3. Thanks for the early Christmas present in my inbox this morning! As always, you said it perfectly and eloquently. Christmas for us may now be less about believing in Santa than it is making making him real for our kids, but through them we can still find the magic.

      1. I had a couple stories I wanted to share, but I just couldn’t sit myself down to write them. I played the “too busy” card. I suppose I could still write them. Here’s a spectacular 2017!

  4. My youngest stopped believing this year, and my oldest isn’t going to ‘lie’ to his daughter about Santa (I love him, but is he EVEN my son???? 🙂 ). So, Santa for now is done in our house. I still sign the tags on the gifts, ‘From Santa.’ Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    1. I’m grateful to have lived the magic as a child, and again through my own kids. Santa always makes a cameo, though, Rosey. Especially with you carrying on his work.

      Merry Christmas!

    1. The $20 tree was one of the greatest acts of compassion I’ve ever been witness to, Diana. You’re right – kids might think they grow up faster, but they’re just kids still, you know?

  5. I hope you are having a lovely holiday and all your wishes are coming true! Christmas is changing as my kids get older – I know what the 12 year old boy at Christmas is like this year and I am so happy that he is one of a Giving Heart eager to participate to keep the magic alive for little sisters. Totally attacked them with a Nerf gun still, because of course, boys. 🙂
    All the best in 2017!

    1. If all my wishes came true, the NFL would have given Denver a provision playoff spot, my steering wheel would be made of pizza and Elizabeth Banks would be napping on my couch.

      I love that your son is part of the magic now, too. All while retaining the Nerfable markers of being a boy.

      Wishing you tons of happiness and awesome blogging in 2017, my friend. Lots of love.

      1. I need to get on my donkey and write, my friend. It’s what I want more than anything, right next to another plate of tamales and also to play Chinese checkers with Laura Linney.

  6. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed the days spent with all your loved ones. Happy New Year, my friend and may it bring you only happiness, joy, love and laughter xoxo

  7. Hi Eli! I loved reading this Christmas blog from you! I am imagining you as a little kid, tearing into the house and tearing Christmas paper to shreds to discover what new Star Wars toys that fake old man left for you. 🎅 I’m gladdened to know that this holiday season was a healthier and happier one for you than 2015. I am wishing you a 2017 that continues the upward trend! As for blogs collecting moss… well let’s just say you haven’t been missing much over at my site in at least two months! It is good to be back and catching up a bit, but life happens, and, as you so wisely pointed out, there is nothing that beats being in the present moment with the ones we love. Happy New Year, my friend! Peace and blessings to you and your family.

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