The year my youngest son bounded into our room at 6 a.m. crying that we had a Christmas emergency, my spirit hit an all-time low. “Mama! Daddy! Santa didn’t come! He didn’t come!” He shook our shoulders and jumped on our bed.
Oh my gosh, I thought. This is worse than a forgetful tooth fairy. This is Christmas. This is bad. Is the whole world waking up to see that Santa came?
“Are you sure today is Christmas?” I asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” he cried. “Yesterday the snowman held up the number 1. It was the last day until Christmas, so today is Christmas, and SANTA DIDN’T COME!”
I had done it, I supposed. After years of contemplating it, I had skipped Christmas.
And what a year to do it! Doubt about Santa’s authenticity had prematurely sprouted in my middle son’s heart He was only 7. After visiting the fat guy at Lowe’s, and two days later at Publix, my boy became befuddled when the jolly old elf at Wal-Mart didn’t demonstrate any recognition of him.
He looked into St. Nick’s fearful eyes and systematically questioned the old guy, to which the bearded benefactor replied, “Ho, ho, ho. Next.”
“What if,” my son pondered, “I’m on the naughty list and Santa is trying not to hurt my feelings?”
Santa’s no-show at our house confirmed everyone’s fear that Santa really does know who is naughty and who is nice. “He didn’t come! He didn’t come! I tried to be good. Santa said he was coming! But he didn’t!” wailed our smallest boy.
My round-faced child peered at me with tears running down his cheeks. I sensed he regretted everything he had done on each of the 364 days that preceded this one. I tried to convince him, though we weren’t yet convinced ourselves, that he looked for Christmas one day too early. “No, the snowman calendar says today is the day. You’re wrong. And I wasted last week being good.”
A glance at my cell phone verified that a Christmas miracle was unfolding. The boy and his siblings had an additional day to find favor with St. Nick.
That night, at 10 p.m. on the real Christmas Eve, the suspicious, but not gambling, middle son gasped, “I forgot to write my Christmas list!”
“You saw Santa several times. I’m sure he’ll remember what to bring.”
“But Mama, I only told him that I want a remote-control dinosaur. Is that all I’m gonna get?” he cried.
He had told the Santas about the remote-control toy, but this was the first I’d heard of it.
The next morning, sitting amongst piles of presents, my child disappointedly inquired, “Why do you think he didn’t bring it?”
Poor Santa was a day late and a dinosaur short.