I remember standing at the sliding closet doors in my father’s study; it was actually the third bedroom in our house, but since there was only mom, dad, and I, the room across from the one small bathroom was his study. It smelled of books, and leather, and unseen thoughts. The house had been built in the early 1970s and as such boasted hardwood flooring (the real stuff, not the veneers sold as snap-together projects today) and real tile in the bathroom. The closet doors in all three bedrooms were made of wood and were set in metal tracks. I only went into the study closet to get the vacuum cleaner for my chores and was often reminded to slide the door completely closed when finished. This day, the door was slightly ajar as I turned from perusing the bookshelf for a needed encyclopedia (we had Brittanica, or at least most of it, from 1968). The desk lamp cast a weak light into the darkened space and shined a twinkle on something; I crept closer, needing more than anything to know what it was. As my face came in line with the edge of the door, I saw a tag: To: Andreé, From: Santa. My eyes grew wide, surpassed only by the width of my smile. AHA! I KNEW IT!!! My young brain shouted as endorphins shot to all corners of my body; I ran from the room, sliding into the hallway and cascading to the kitchen, arriving breathless to stand–hands on hips–in front of my mother. With all the quiet joy I could muster (since yelling was not encouraged within the confines of our small abode), I shared the reason for my excitement: I know who Santa Claus is. My mother’s eyes grew wetter as I told my my discovery, but I barely noticed as I continued to prattle away about my previous theories and how happy I was to know that she and dad had in fact been masquerading all those years. My heart did cartwheels through breakfast and I skipped out the door to await the bus which would carry me to school, where I would share my new and important discovery: Santa. Is. Not. Real.
It was many years later that my mother, still traumatized from the event, told me what had transpired after I’d gone out the door. She had immediately called my dad and, through tear-stained discourse informed him that he’d left the closet door open, that I had discovered the wrapped and labeled presents therein, and no longer believed in Santa. Dad, ever the sympathetic, replied that he thought I’d already figured that out. Mom was never the same.
Written for today’s Daily Prompt:
The Tooth Fairy (or Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus . . .) : a fun and harmless fiction, or a pointless justification for lying to children?