Welcome to another holiday season. The pumpkins are adorning the porches. The Christmas trees are up at the mall. It’s my absolute favorite time of the year but this time there’s something a bit troubling lurking beneath my festive mirth. Is this the year Santa Claus will die?
My children still believe in Santa Claus, but at ages 9 and 10, I know the clock on their belief is winding down. My oldest started Middle School this year and it actually seems a little absurd to me that a Middle School student would still believe in such fantasies, but the mommy in me is sad to know that the magic in her life will fade away. They believe in the Tooth Fairy as well so if Santa goes, I’m sure the Tooth Fairy is getting the axe too. Frankly, I’ll be happy to see that b*tch go. She’s caused me a ton of trouble over the years and I’m tired of the charade.
I am the worst Tooth Fairy. Ever. I wasn’t always this bad. In the beginning I would paint a couple of dollar bills with glitter nail polish to make them look like they were coated in fairy dust. I was ready! And I was excited to see the look of absolute glee on her face in the morning when she believed a tiny winged person fluttered in at night to the beacon of useless teeth beneath her pillow, and actually paid her for the privilege of hauling away the precious, poorly-brushed baby chompers. My first time I wasn’t sure if $2 was enough but anything above $5 seemed ridiculous for a damn tooth, so I added in a piece of candy and the tradition of fairy dollars and candy was born. It was now an expectation for every future lost tooth. It became a problem, FAST.
I rarely ever carry cash on me so having dollars available at a moments notice was a problem. If she lost that tooth after I was in for the evening, this lady is not making a special trip to the ATM, then heading to a store to buy something small to break the twenty that was dispensed from the ATM, then coming home to paint the money with glitter and wait for her to fall asleep so I could ninja my way into her room undetected and slide money and candy beneath her pillow without waking her. Call me lazy, but that’s a lot of work. She was little and never needed to spend money so oftentimes I would just steal her unspent old Tooth Fairy money from her piggy bank and give it to her again. She’d never know. Our Tooth Fairy commits financial crimes. After a couple of years we got a dog. The dog slept on Sydney’s bed at night. Do you know how much harder it is to get into a kid’s room undetected when there’s a puppy in the bed that thinks it must be playtime now? I have wrestled with that dog multiple times trying to be the Tooth Fairy. The damn animal thought it was a game and kept diving under her pillow to retrieve the money I was putting under there! Also, the f**king candy… the dog kept eating it! Picture me annoyed, swatting away a hyper puppy that’s jumping all over me while I whisper-screamed STOP IT! SHUT UP! DON’T JUMP ON TOP OF HER HEAD! YOU LITTLE BASTARD!! I couldn’t very well reuse money as often because she started to notice the chunks bitten out of the dollars as unique identifiers of the bills.
I’d also forget all the damn time. Multiple times per tooth. I have never lied so quickly and smoothly as when one of my kids comes in my room bright and early, misty-eyed and heartbroken because the Tooth Fairy failed to visit her.
“I bet the stupid dog got in the way and scared he Tooth Fairy. I did remember hearing some commotion with the dog coming from your room last night. Just leave it again and lock the dog in her cage tonight.”
“I bet the Tooth Fairy didn’t realize you had the tooth ready now because you forgot to put it under your pillow the first night you lost it. You’ll need to write a letter so she’ll come tonight.”
“Did you clean it? The Tooth Fairy only accepts clean teeth so if you brush it she will come back tonight to collect it.”
I’ve even forgotten after she made me participate in a tooth placement ceremony before bed. Look, I’m exhausted after they go to bed!! Gimme a break!! I believed in the Tooth Fairy until the night I lost a tooth just before bed and didn’t tell my mom. I woke up devastated and ran to tell my mom that the Tooth Fairy hadn’t visited and my tooth was still beneath my pillow. She tried. She really did. She told me to bring her the pillow because maybe I just didn’t look for the money well enough. I brought her the pillow and she put on a really good show of looking inside the pillow case as I saw one hand reach over to her nightstand and grab whatever cash she had and slip it into the pillow case. “Here it is!! She put it inside the pillow case!” I still had the tooth so I rode that dead pony a little while longer and kept putting the same tooth under the pillow when I wanted more cash. I figured I’d participate in the farce a bit longer for a little profit. I was a white collar criminal at 7 years old.
I have also participated actively in the Santa Charade. Each year we travel to visit our family in Michigan for Christmas. Every time we are about to depart our house, I double back inside feigning the need to pee, saying I forgot something, or pretending to go turn off a light I left on. That’s when I grab the gifts from Santa that I had wrapped in a different paper than all of the other gifts and hidden somewhere in the house. I put them under the tree at that moment where no child is around. When we return home from visiting relatives they think Santa has been to the house and left those presents under the tree in our absence.
Last year my oldest told me that she knows FOR SURE that Santa exists because the gifts show up under the tree when we are gone out of town so the gifts couldn’t possibly be put there by me. My plan has worked for all these years and there’s no stopping until she discovers Santa isn’t real for herself. I can’t take that magic of childhood away from her. But someone will. With every passing year the probability of someone spilling the beans gets higher. I remember when someone killed my belief in Santa. It was my aunt and I was about the age my kids are now.
She was chatting with me asking what was gonna be on my Christmas list that year and in the midst of the discussion she asked, “You don’t still believe in Santa Claus do you?” I played it off as best as I could and stayed cool as I responded, “Nah, of course not.” Inside my head…
“OH MY GOD!! None of it was real??? I feel so BETRAYED!! There no SANTA?!”
Santa. Dead to me. When I told my mother that I knew there was no Santa her charades of putting gifts marked “From Santa” was over and all of my childhood magic was gone. After a while there wasn’t even any surprise any more as I became difficult to shop for. She’d take me shopping for whatever it was I wanted and we’d bring it all home and she would tell me to wrap it up myself and put it under the tree until Christmas. Damn. Even the simple mystery beneath wrapping paper was gone.
After that, the Christmas spirit took hold in different ways. The magic of the season became something else. It was the excitement of being with family and watching the younger children get excited as they opened presents from Santa. It was the cupcakes we would bake every year together. And NOTHING could remove that feeling you get when you see the first Christmas lights each season or when you fall asleep in the living room by the glow of the Christmas tree. For me, Christmas is a feeling. I don’t know who’s gonna kill Santa Claus for my kids, but when it happens I hope they can still see the magic that I do.