It turns out I suck as an elf.

On December 29, 2007 by Eden M. Kennedy

When Jackson got to be about two-and-a-half, Jack had to straighten me out on the logic of Christmas: you put up the tree, but you don’t put the presents out until after the child has gone to sleep. This fosters the belief in an unseen but all-knowing and usually benevolent disburser of rewards for good behavior.

Well, that may seem obvious to most sensate bipeds, but back when I first rolled in (third child) my parents were well past propping up the fictive North Pole regime. They just covered stuff in last year’s wrapping paper and put it under the (fake) tree when they damn well felt like it. The stocking stuffers may have suddenly appeared Christmas morning, but since I’d been with my mom at the drugstore when she bought all the toothbrushes and rolls of Scotch tape that went into those fuzzy red and white synthetic stockings that she’d written our names on with a black Magic Marker, and since we didn’t have a chimney, I never got my crampons real far up the north face of Mt. I-Believe-In-Santa.

So, last weekend I was in Williams Sonoma with 800 other last-minute shoppers, loading up on lemon squeezers and knife sharpeners and silicone cupcake brassieres. And Jackson was hanging around the free sample counter, although whenever a be-aproned employee offered him a peppermint chip he’d always politely decline, pointing to his mouth and explaining, “I have gum.”

But when all that over-thought kitchen paraphernalia got pulled out of his father’s stocking, Jackson was visibly taken aback.

“How did Santa put all that stuff in Daddy’s stocking?” he asked, shocked as Jack examined a useless pair of rubber tongs he’d just removed from his fancy embroidered, velvet-backed stocking.

“Uh,” I said, filling that word with all the intelligence a woman of my age and experience could muster, given the circumstances. “Well! I guess Santa knew I forgot to wrap that stuff, so he helped me out by putting it in Daddy’s stocking!” Jackson looked skeptical, so I opened my mouth a little wider so I could get the whole heel of my slipper down my throat. “Santa takes care of all the children’s stockings, but we help him out by doing some of the shopping for grownups’ stockings.”

Jack and his mother avoided my pleading gaze and busied themselves by numbing their incredulousness with a couple of expertly made Bloody Marys.

I don’t know. Maybe I subconsciously wanted to begin breaking down the whole Santa fantasy. More likely it was just bonus seasonal sloppiness on my part.

Remind me to tell you about how my whole “Let’s not believe in God, let’s believe in Science!” childrearing experiment has already backfired on me.



37 Responses to “It turns out I suck as an elf.”

  • Heh. This year I know I *bought* stuff for stockings, but I very well may have donated it to charity along with all the jeans that haven’t fit me since 2001. I learned this at 11:30 pm on Christmas eve. My six year old got a bunch of crap from the back of a closet (leftovers from birthday party goody bags – see they DO have a purpose!) and some broken, dented and slightly melted candy that was ALL that was left at the neighborhood all night drugstore. He looked at me funny when he saw the pirate bandaids, pirate facial tissues and pirate devil duckie pencil toppers. Can you guess what kind of birthday party it was? I told him Santa must have been watching way back when it was his birthday and knows just what kind of things he likes. I think it worked. But I kinda don’t care that much either.

  • I loved this! My husband never believed in Santa due to his mother. She told him, at a very early age, something to the effect of, “Your father and I are not giving some white man credit for all the presents we buy you!” Ha!

  • What did he think of the body parts you wrapped for him? (That sounds so terrible now that I see it on-screen; hopefully everyone reading this comment will have already read the post I’m referring to!)
    House of Jules

  • Lol! Jules, GREAT question! :D

  • Turnes out that the organs for the anatomical torso came individually wrapped in tissue from the medical company, so I just went with it. (Occasionally one of the lungs falls out, but otherwise I think he likes it.)

  • LOL! I’m so glad we don’t do the Santa thing. I tell my girls that Santa doesn’t come to our house because they have enough. Instead he gives their gifts to children who need extra gifts because they don’t have anything. This takes the pressure off of me, because the gifts from Santa have to get progressively better (expensiver)each year.

  • Benita, that is the funniest thing I have ever read about Santa.

  • Love this post, Fussy. I think it’s one of your best! Thank you.

  • My goodness! I haven’t been here in ages. No offense…just busy bee. I really like the subtle changes in design. It’s looking really clean over here.

    “And Jackson was hanging around the free sample counter, although whenever a be-aproned employee offered him a peppermint chip he’d always politely decline, pointing to his mouth and explaining, “I have gum.”


  • my sister used to explain Santa that way, and because i was the youngest and most gullible, i believed everything she said.

    i can visualize, in complete detail, Jackson’s politeness. what a cutie.

  • You need to go to elf school.


  • At least you had a stiff drink when you needed it. Sigh, hubby and I did plenty of sneaking drinkies when the bible thumpers were not looking. Heathens I tell you! We are HEATHENS!

  • My kids pretended to believe in Santa long after they knew the difference. Their reasoning? Santa brings extra prezzies.

  • Benita, that made me laugh; my parents also didn’t want some imaginary person to get the credit for the presents they worked so hard for; we got an unwrapped present that appeared under the tree Christmas morning (a doll or stuffed animal or something that we could play with for awhile and buy our parents some extra sleep) and our stocking, those were exciting enough that they magically appeared. This was good because it created some excitement but there was never a traumatising ‘OH NOES THERES NO SANTA!!’ moment. We were actually much more excited by the idea the reindeer had eaten the hay that we put out by the barn the night before.

    I am not building up the whole Santa myth into a huge deal for our kids, either. Stocking and an extra unwrapped toy is good, because I want credit, dammit :-D

  • That’s great! When I was growing up, Santa never wrapped the things in our stockings. There wasn’t much there, but it was always super-cool that he’d visited. I was the oldest of four kids, and Mom made it quite clear that if those who’d discovered the truth ruined the surprise for the little ones, Santa wouldn’t bring us anything! :) Needless to say, we believed in Santa for a long time!! ;)

    ~The Casual Perfectionist (.com)

  • Forget fostering belief in Santa – I hold back on the presents because I get sick and tired of telling the girls to get out from under the tree and to stop shaking all the damn boxes.

    (And I’ve succeeded in the belief in Santa/disbelief in God, but all I’ve gained are phone calls from teachers and incredulous questions.)

  • I can’t wait to hear about the Science vs. God thing, because we are in the thick of that argument over here. Please let me learn from your mistakes!

  • I am at that faze with my kids, except the 3 yr old. She could care how they got there. I make them pretend they believe though. Is that bad? hahahaha

  • Oh and we only put presents to other people under the tree before Christmas eve.

  • Dawn Elizabeth, do you actually donate a few toys to a charity then?

  • My daughter caught me signing my husband’s (stocking) gift tags, “love, Santa.”

    She read the tag and then looked at me all horrified and asked why I was signing the tag from Santa instead of myself.

    I told her the EXACT same thing you did and then went straight to the pantry and poured myself a glass of wine.

    Chalk another moment up to brilliant parenting.


    Have a happy new year!

  • I had to laugh because we ALWAYS get toothbrushes and often get scotch tape in our stockings. When my grandpa was still around, he took paperclips from the GE stock room and we all got those too. We also always get socks. Luckily I get some good loot too, but not a Williams-Sonoma grapefruit spoon which is what I had really hoped for.

  • Yes, Mrs. K! Please do tell us about the God vs. Science debate! I’m firmly on the side of science, but my fiance? Not so much. I’d love to hear how you tackled it!

  • Good luck darling — Bossy had to keep that shit up for a decade – with each of her two kids who are seven years apart, so that’s like 10+7+10 = a crap load of magic santa years.

  • My son was incredibly pissed at us when he found out the truth…”you lied to me” He was…and still is a righteous kid…I remember putting off his question…”Santa is real right?” with “well, what do you think?” Also feeling terribly guilty when he said…”he ate the cookies so he must be real” That sweet, simple child logic that made me feel kinda crappy about the whole thing. Fortunately, at nineteen now, I think he’s forgiven us…

  • Hmmm. Yeah. I was thinking this year that we are going to have to get it together for next year – the presents from Santa in different wrapping paper, and not put out until Christmas morning, only one stocking per kid (thanks for the second stocking, Grandma, but you’re kinda screwing with my illusion here!)

  • I remember starting to notice that Santa would take nectarines out of our fruit bowl to put them in my stocking.

    Our daughter just celebrated her first Christmas, so we haven’t had to worry too much about Santa yet. I’ll take your warning and be careful.

  • Oh, I forgot to tell you about the first X-Mas I spent with my husband’s family. We opened all the gifts under the tree on X-Mas eve, which I thought was a little weird, but ok. Then, X-Mas morning? The tree was totally re-loaded with gifts! From Santa! For us! Three people in their fucking 30′s with no kids in sight. I needed a stiff drink at 8am that day, my friend.

    Now that our eldest is 6 & 1/2 yo, we are desperately trying to wean my MIL off the practice by telling our kids, in front of her, “Santa only brings gifts to children!

  • I am all about the Santa over up in here! Our oldest fessed up to me this year that he’s wise to us but feels like he’s in on the big secret, so he’s good with our lying to him all these years.

    Santa did lose her mind for a minute this year. Santa put harmonicas in the kids stockings because Santa thought they were neato. Santa didn’t think about the noise they would produce. Santa didn’t realize that the parents would be telling them to “stop that” 5 seconds into their repertoire. Santa should have known better. Santa had a talk with herself.

  • I was brought up not to believe in anything I couldn’t reach out and touch. So I always knew Santa was an invention, but I let myself fancy that it was the adults who were disillusioned and cynical and that only children knew he existed.

    When I was three, I stayed over at a friend’s house just before Christmas and a bloke dressed as Santa was going door-to-door collecting for charity. I’d been told it was all a hoax, but I let myself believe as the two of us hopped up and down and pointed through the window at him.

    In Sweden they have the Julbok, or Christmas Goat. Ian has seized upon this as the Christmas Nonsense he wants Esme to grow up believing in.

  • Ahhh, the greatest lie ever told — Santa. And so well backed up by nations from around the world. It’s a wonder we grow up to ever believe anything we’re told.

  • Benita, that’s the best Santa story ever!
    Mrs. K, God is going to trip you up all over the place in the garden of Science is God’s, Too. Just saying.

  • Wow, the scotch tape part was a blast from the past. We also got the toothbrushes (and my kids still do), but I now remember what a thrill it was to get a roll of tape. I need to remember that for next year.

  • THis has nothing to do with your post, but I can’t figure out how to email you and figured Blogger might do it for me if I comment.

    Do you know about WoYoPracMo (I think that’s right) – a month of Yoga?

  • I don’t remember a big shocking moment when I discovered Santa wasn’t real… I think it was a sort of gradual thing, when I started picking up that Santa’s handwriting changed all the time and sometimes it looked like my Dad’s, sometimes like my Mom’s and sometimes like Grandma’s. They all tried to tell me that they went to school with Santa and that’s why they’d learned to write the same. And I play along with it and still claim to believe in him, because otherwise he won’t bring me presents.

  • ws grapefruit spoon? dear god.