I say suspected because I am too chicken to ask outright if she does or does not believe and I am not going to be the one to watch the look in her eyes if she is told pointblank that Santa is not real. Once, many years ago, the subject came up amongst the family and the look on her face when the possibility of No Real Santa dawned was too much for me. I quietly packed up all the phrases I had thought might be helpful and beat a hasty retreat.
Yes, I am a coward sometimes.
So we have muddled along each year and Santa has continued to fill the Christmas socks. Why only socks now? I explained to her that once one became more grown-up Santa no longer left gifts under the tree (after all, only little kids sit on Santa’s lap to ask for presents); this logic made perfect sense to her, and each year her Christmas sock would be brought out and placed so the jolly old elf could find it. I saw it as an act of faith in a world that was normally filled with IQ testing and limitations; struggles and uncertainty. The confidence that the sock would be filled seemed somehow to embody the inherent goodness present in all of us, “peace on earth, goodwill to men”, the possibility of magic and the promise of chocolate. And when my daughter Sarah started quietly filling a sock for me, I knew it was all true.
I have great kids.
When Rebecca moved to her own apartment she always came home for Christmas Eve and made sure her sock came with her. With the addition to her household of her most spoiled cat Twinkle, the cat had to have a sock, too. However, on Christmas Eve only the sock travelled; importing Twinkle to my home which was already occupied by a cat and dog had all the attraction of inviting the killer rabbit from Monty Python’s Holy Grail to tea, and the outcome would have been similarly messy. Twinkle stays home.
So Santa filled both socks. Rebecca never questioned how I knew what the items in the socks were….maybe it was part of some Santa/parent/omnipotent being reasoning she subscribed to. I don’t know; she can’t explain it, wouldn’t understand what I was asking if I asked it and I will just have to add it to my “questions for God after I die” list if I want an answer.
This year when Rebecca brought her sock over it didn’t register with me that I did not see Twinkle’s new sock and in the wee dark hours of Christmas morning…uh oh…. Santa had to put the cat treats into Rebecca’s sock. When we got up that morning, had our coffee and started opening gifts, she dumped out her sock and picked up the treats. She looked puzzled and mentioned that they weren’t the right flavor for Twinkle. I said something like “the elf must have told Santa wrong” and offered to exchange them at the store. I thought I had recovered gracefully enough and gave myself a mental pat on the back. We continued with the festivities, had a delightful day and all too soon it was time for me to take her back to her apartment.
I helped her haul her stuff up the stairs and I was already in the living room when she made it through the door. My back was turned and I heard an uncharacteristically small voice from her; “Oh…..Santa didn’t leave anything for Twinkle…..”. I looked up and sure enough, there was the sock Rebecca had made the week before hanging on the wall, flatter than Florida.