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I was a true believer in Saint Nick. After all, I had seen him with my own two eyes. One of my earliest memories was seeing the bearded one parading through our townhouse, clad in red and white, shouting “Ho! Ho! Ho!”
My sister and brother, older than me by three and five years respectively, were thrilled beyond belief. Four-year-old Jon-Jon was screaming in terror, hiding behind the second-floor banister. No idea why I reacted that way. I sat in Santa’s lap at the mall every year without issue and I was very pro-gift.
Seeing St. Nick in my own home still freaked me out. But at least I knew he was very, very real. As the youngest child, my family was determined to keep it that way.
In fourth grade, around October, the lovely teacher who I had a crush on (what’s up, Mrs. Musco?) casually dropped, “None of you believe in Santa Claus anymore, right?”
Two or three boys laughed as they yelled “no.” The rest of us looked around in confusion and distress. Who the heck was sliding down our chimney and leaving us gifts? Who ate those cookies we set out and left a handwritten note? Was our entire childhood a lie? Then I got distracted by Mrs. Musco’s blonde hair and blue eyes. “I’m going to marry that woman one day.”
Doubt marred that Christmas. I didn’t want to stop believing in the jolly old elf; he was the one who made the season so exciting. If I became a heretical non-believer, would Santa even give me presents? Christmas Eve, it all came to a head. I was convinced I’d get a literal lump of coal and confessed to my mom I was stuck on the naughty list.
Mom was utterly confused, reassuring me that wasn’t the case. I didn’t dare admit I doubted Mr. Kringle, so she couldn’t figure out my existential crisis.
By next Christmas, it was all over. I’d figured out that my parents left the gifts, Dad ate the cookies, and he was the “Santa” who terrified me with a home visit. Poor guy.
From then on, Christmas lost its enchantment. Just family members swapping gifts with no hint of the supernatural. I still enjoyed it, but it became more of a regular holiday like Halloween or Thanksgiving.
The worst part? I never married Mrs. Musco. (Might have been for the best. When, years later I told my mom what she said, she was livid.)
When did you learn about Santa, Ricochetti, and how did you react to the news?Published in