Mimetalker's Blog

a mime is a terrible thing to waste.


Illinois, USA
January 26
On this blog: All words (other than identified quotations) © Sharon Nesbit-Davis, All rights reserved. *********************************** ********************************** You can find me on Facebook: Sharon Nesbit-Daivs, or "The Mime Writes" Logo Design by Dianaani ********************************** I work as the Education & Community Engagement Director of a Regional Arts Council which means I beg "the deciders" to fund and support the arts for everyone, not just the rich. *********************************** I am also a mime. For those that hate mimes, I understand. But you'll never find me annoying people on the street, unless I'm living there. I'm a "concert mime" ...which means you have to buy a ticket. I haven't done much mime lately...I'd rather be writing. *********************************** I've been married to my one and only since 1976. Still happy. Still in love. Two kids, eight grandkids. In college I became a Baha'i (a world religion whose main theme is unity). It keeps me relatively sane in a world gone mad.


Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 22, 2011 2:50AM

Santa Tears

Rate: 26 Flag





I was five and it was summer and I had done something very bad. My oldest brother said it was so bad I was on Santa's Naughty List and there was not enough time to get off. I decided to ask the older neighbor girl to help me write an apology letter to Santa. I thought about what to say and remembered another "Sharon" moved into the house down the street and she was mean. I had to make sure he knew it was me apologizing and not her. And then I thought about how many more "Sharons" there might be in the world. And then I began to think.


There were numerous flaws in the Santa story. One was timing. Once he got into the house there was a lot to do. Besides finding the right presents, he ate cookies, drank milk, and wrote a thank-you note.  There were more houses in my town than I could count. How could he get to every house in the world? If all the kids in the house were bad he could skip a few, but that was still a lot of houses. Did he make mistakes? The other Sharon rode a fancy bike that she said Santa gave her. How does a mean girl get a bike with chrome fenders, a light and a bell? And why did no kid ever see him leave the presents? Adults said Santa waited to come until you fell asleep. This was another timing problem. It takes a long time to fall asleep on Christmas Eve.


The more I thought, the more questions I had. How could a bag large enough for millions of presents fit in a sleigh? I saw the sleigh when he was at Sears. It wasn't very big. And I had a question about the reindeer. How can they fly that fast without exploding?


Still, it had to be true. My parents, and grandparents, and aunts and uncles, and Sunday School teacher would not lie. But something felt wrong and it made my stomach hurt. 


I found my father in the basement at his workbench . “Is Santa Claus real?” He continued on his project without looking at me. “What do you think?” This was one infuriating thing about my father. He never answered a question without asking one. I presented my reasons why it seemed impossible. When I finished he turned to face me. My father was really smart. I waited for him to explain away all my doubts.  


"You're right, Punky. There is no Santa Claus."  He shook his head and grinned. "Well, you're no dummy." He went back to his work and I ran off to my room. It was daytime and I no longer took naps. But I climbed into bed, went under the covers and sobbed longer than I remember sobbing over anything.


Before I went down to supper that evening, I stood in front of my mirror and made a "hope to die, look the devil in the eye" vow to never lie to my children about Santa Claus.


Twenty years later, I told my parents I wasn't going to do the Santa Claus thing with my children.  I told them my story of discovering the truth and how devasted I was. They laughed.  "That's just a part of growing up."


I was annoyed they didn't understand my point, but I had to be careful.

I became a Bahá'i in college and my mother looked for signs it was a cult. After six years she stopped expecting I would shave my head and sell flowers in airports, but depriving my children of Santa Claus was reviving her suspicion. I denied this had anything to do with the Bahá'i Faith. "If I was still Christian, I would not lie about Santa Claus." 


My father said "They're your kids, your decision."  As I left the room mom whispered to dad,  “She just took all the fun out of Christmas.”


I kept hearing my mother's words in my head whenever someone asked if I was done with my Christmas shopping, or what our plans were for the holiday. My kids were the only grandchildren my parents saw at Christmas and I ruined it for them. I would not go back on my promise, but there was a way we could do this. 


I read T'was the Night Before Christmas to the kids and suggested we pretend this was true. This was normal for us. Most stories we read were turned into mini theatrical productions.


“But this time everyone will pretend with us.” My son looked skeptical. My daughter jumped up and down and twirled. 


A few days later we went to the grocery store and the clerk leaned over the counter and smiled down at them. “What did you ask Santa to bring you?” They looked at each other and screamed. I explained they were very excited this year. 


We went to the mall. "Santa" was there with a long line of children and parents, waiting. We giggled then assumed the roles of children and parent excited to see Santa Claus.


We would be traveling to my parent's house for Christmas. I called my mother to tell her my plan and she thought it was silly.


"I don't understand what you want me to do."


"Do what you did when we were kids. You pretended then. Just pretend now." She sighed. "By the way, I told them about Dad's Santa Claus bit in the attic and they want him to do it." She sighed again.


On Christmas Eve the kids talked all day about about Santa Claus. They wondered if he had left the North Pole yet and if Rudolf would come this year. They stood at the window and pointed to possible sightings. They drew pictures for him, checked out the chimney and asked to leave a window open as an alternate entry. Mom promised to leave the back door unlocked.


 After they went to bed my father snuck up to the attic, stomped around and shouted out "Merry Christmas! Ho! Ho! Ho!" He called out the names of the Reindeer and left one out. My daughter yelled. "Rudolph! Santa you forgot Rudolph!"


They were told  to stay in bed until they heard Grandma making breakfast. Their room was next to ours. It was barely dawn when I heard them whispering. My daughter swore she saw a red nose fly past the window. My son heard the back door squeak. I detected a whiff of coffee and felt small hands on my face. "Grandma's up". They waited for what I know seemed like hours for my husband and I to pee, brush teeth, and throw on our robes.  


They gasped at the lit tree with presents beneath. They were thrilled  Santa left crumbs and took their drawings. They fought over his thank you note.


After the quickest breakfast they ever ate, they opened presents and later searched for Santa clues. They found them. A stray white hair by the chimney. Odd prints in the snow. Possible fingerprints on the doorknob. That was disputed because Santa wears gloves. When they went to bed that night they asked if we could do it again next year.


My mother was amazed. "They had just as much fun as you kids did. Maybe more."


I nodded... but did not say “told you so”. I played the role of a respectful daughter.


When my son went to school I prepared him for the inevitable. "Your friends probably think Santa Claus is real, so please don't tell them he's 

not." He wanted to know why.


"Because their parents want them to believe in him."




"Because when they were kids they thought he was real."


"Was he real then?"


"No, but their parents told them he was."


"They lied?"


"They pretended. Like we do, but they didn't tell them it was pretend."


He considered this. "That is a lie."


"Adults think it's fun for children to believe in Santa. It was, but when I found out..."


"You believed in Santa Claus?" He laughed one of those full-out, hold your gut because it hurts laughs. I waited until he finished.


"Yes and it hurt when I found out, so I didn't do that to you." 


He asked why people tell kids Santa is real when they know they find out the truth eventually.


I searched for an answer, but he found one first. "I know. It's what Jesus said. 'Do to others what they do to you' ". 



We have the second generation of Santa non-believers. My kids havn’t done the “pretend you believe” game with them. My daughter said it was fun, but she remembers wishing she believed like her friends did. 


“Do you wish I told you Santa Claus was real?”


“Not really. I would have been pissed.” 


I took my grandson out for dinner last week to a Thai restaurant. It was decorated in Christmas lights and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” played in the background. I asked if the kids in his class still believed in Santa. He leaned forward and said in measured tones "Every single one."  One of the boys told him he had to believe. It was a law.


I know my grandson. He could not let that pass, and he didn't. He told them Santa wasn’t real and parents buy the presents. The kids didn't believe him. “They’ll feel stupid when they find out.” We both laughed.  


And then I asked him not to think they are "stupid", because it wasn't their fault.  





Photo Credit: Google Images 

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This should be an Editor's Pick. This should be a newspaper item like, "No Virginia, There Isn't A Santa Claus." Very well-written, very well-acted, very well-thought-out! Merry Christmas!
You are a marvelous person, Sharon. Maybe a genius. When I was five I believed anything and everything, with nary a question. It took me a few more years to reach the level of skepticism you had at five, and that is when I learned to rationalize away anything I didn't want to accept or even face. And your solution to the problem when you had kids of your own, that is genius. Mhold is right. This should go viral. I'm going to recommend that Emily put it on the cover, if she's working this week, and I'm going to put it on Facebook. Brava!
Sweet and wise...And very fun to read! Merry Christmas!
This was fun to read. My daughter swears she will NEVER tell her kids there is a Santa Claus. What a grinch. ~r
Wonderful story and a lesson for all of us. Merry Christmas to you and your family! Rated.
This is a great post and a great approach to Santa. Part of me wishes I had read it 30 years ago before my own kids came along. Although I'm not sure I would have done things different. It's been interesting to read everyone's different takes on discovering the truth about Santa. I don't remember being devastated or disappointed. I just remember feeling smart about figuring it out. And I remember the magic I felt before I did. It seemed okay to try and pass those feelings along. Still. What a thoughtful and creative approach. I'm sending it on to my daughters. It will be interesting to see what they decide to do.
One of my older kids told me how he felt when he discovered the "truth." He said he even had gotten in a argument/fight with one of his buddies defending the Santa theory. His revelation made me feel bad. No parent feels like she is lying to her kids. It's simply a game, part of American tradition based on the truth of the real St. Nicholaus, but I do agree that kids can enjoy Christmas just as much not believing.
sage and beautiful rated.
Fantastic! What a clever mother you are. We had no magic growing up at my house so I did the Santa thing for my family. I have no idea when my children stopped believing. They just got older and the beliefs fell away as painlessly as a lost tooth for the Fairy Godmother.
That wasn't you at the airport on 23 June, 1977, at Denver?

This is terrific remembrance and soul and sense.

The beleif that can only lead to disappointment. Oh, well. Well told.
Ordinarily I tend to form concrete opinions about which side of an argument I fall. This is one I am conflicted about. My parents never truly "lied" about Santa; they just allowed me to believe what I wanted to believe. I must admit that I did feel a little betrayed by society in general as one by one Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy became too incredible to believe any longer. Now I mostly feel it is wrong -- until I see a small child's eyes wide with wonder and joy because one of those characters has paid a visit.

Great re-telling....this really should be an EP :-)
I think the Santa story is even more fun for the adults than the kids, and thats why they keep it going from generation to generation. I think you made a good decision, especially based on your own experience.
In one word: Stellar!
I hope that sums up what many others expressed in their comments.

Thanks everyone for your kind words and appreciative some of you think it deserves an EP. I actually got one for last year's version, though it never made the cover. I think it is against the law to get an EP for the same story...even a revision. (At least that is what former OSer Bonnie Russell said) But my post from a couple days ago about the one year I remember believing in Santa Claus is suddenly an "Editor's Pick". Hmmm... maybe this topic is too controversial for the OS cover. ;-)
Maybe they read what the rooster wrote here and thought, "Nuh uh, ain't gonna let no rooooster tell us what to do!!!!" Actually, they're probly still making the eggnog for tonite's staff party. Gotta keep sampling it, you know, to make sure it's juuuuuust right.
ummm...I guess I spoke too soon about the EP...OS is braver than I thought ;-)
I do love this story and what you did for your parents...I had a small girl ask me at work yesterday is there really was a Santa and I told her the truth I believe there is I didn't need to explain the in my heart thing because all she needed to know was it was okay to still believe in the unbelievable.
I had no idea. This is such a good way to share the fun without causing any pain. So much more sensible and exciting. Thank you, Gani.
Dipped into yer faith, bahai, never heard of it, like it!
• Gambling is forbidden.
• Fanaticism is forbidden.
• Adherence to ritual is condemned, with the notable exception of the obligatory prayers.
• Abstaining from partisan politics is required.

From good old Wikipedia.
All prophets inspired: but of their time & place.

As for santy claws, I cannot for the life of me remember when I figured it out.
Seems like maybe I have repressed a momentous event.
Santy claws is real to the kids. “what seems to be /is/to those to whom
It seems to be”.
Reasonably, we adults say we meld a Narrative unto the experience of getting all kinds of good stuff. Because? The kiddies deserve it. for being good. Right?

Ok there is no Santa. But there is still mom & dad. And family. The psychological situation is changed, for the better, I used to think ….my mommy & daddy love me so much!....to give me all this good stuff…also:

IT IS A WONDERFUL LESSON IN REASONING, as you point out in your description
Of your doubts about santa, how he had such a big bag, could get everywhere, etc.
Yep, I like your solution to the conundrum very much. Still, I am glad I believed--and still do.

Great post. Congratulations on a well-deserved EP.
It's enlightening to read these entries. I can see you being hurt by the news -- being lied to -- while other children simply move on without feeling punched, and I guess you never know which kind of child yours will be. Your instincts told you to make decisions based upon your own experiences and feelings, and what else can a good parent do? I was one of those who took it in stride (maybe I never fully believed, ever...the wrapping paper was too familiar), and yet I still felt a bit of trepidation when it came time to do Santa with my own children. In the end we played it down. No Santa's lap or lists so they always viewed him as a storybook character rather than a real person.
This is a great story. Pretending to believe is what all of us did who once did. It's hard to imagine pretending from the outset, though. R
Wonderful photo. I searched all over Google for something like that. Had to settle for the one I put on Facebook, which is the antithesis of what your story is about. Congrats on the EP. More than deserved. Mandatory.
just curious, i take it you told the kids there was no Eater Bunny, Tooth Fairy or other magical creations of childhood. probably didn't want them reading Fairy Tales or Harry Potter cause that's all made up stuff. if you let them trick o treat they probably had to dress as historic figures like Trotsky or Bela Abzug. i just don't see what a triumph it is to strip children of any comforting myths they may have so they can grow up jaundiced and cynical and not to mention smug.--- “They’ll feel stupid when they find out.” We both laughed.
Thanks everyone for stopping by. For anyone concerned that my children suffered greatly from not being told fictitious characters are real when in reality they are pretend, thanks for your concern. We have have great fun pretending and creating stories and reading fanciful stories. Our Halloween parties are legendary...but I wouldn't want them to go to sleep thinking the zombies are real or Gollum is hiding in our courtyard. That would be cruel. There is enough real magic in the world...we don't have to make things up...everytime I look at the stars I see a miracle.
I was the last to understand that there wasn't Santa Claus and I still believed in the leprechauns that came on St. Patty's Day! Hahaha!
Great post. I am glad you told you children not to tell although I would never have believed them! : D
Great solution to an age old conundrum. I pretended to believe for several years...that whole thing about not looking a gift horse, etc. I was not happy when my younger brother spoiled it all. :) Terrific post...Will this go in your book???LOVE it! r