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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holiday Subterfuge



"I'm calling Santa."  That tactic used to work wonders when the boys were toddlers.  Blotchy and apologetic, they'd beg for just one more chance to straighten up.  Dave and I rode that magical wave for several seasons, wildly unselfconscious.  We rang the North Pole regularly.  I'd complain to anybody who'd answer the phone up in the workshop - Mrs. Claus, harried elves, talking reindeer.  It didn't matter who I spoke to, as long as they were sympathetic toward adults and could relay a message that would directly impact my children's Christmas windfall.

Two winters ago, my husband threatened to call Santa Claus on his cell phone. Rory panicked briefly while Desmond, on the other hand, barely flinched.  I remember when the lame warning left David's lips that last time.  It was a sad moment in our marriage.  We both realized this holiday micropower was fleeting. I've never looked at him quite the same way.

Since then, the Killian Brothers are becoming aware that their parents are behind the Santa Claus shell game.  Still, both sons composed missives to St. Nick after Thanksgiving.  The letters themselves were more clinical and straightforward than in previous years.  Less chatty, no artwork.  Perfunctory grocery lists of comic books, video games and Nerf weapons.  Nothing too extravagant, which is always a relief.  Hardly any toys this year, with the exception of a few more challenging Lego Kits, those geared toward teenage boys who aren't dating yet.  I guess these guys are really growing up.

Desmond may have been a little embarrassed about the writing exercise, but he tried not to let on.  I could tell, though.  He is, after all, a man of science.  Rory saw the Cupcakes with Santa sign as we drove into the neighborhood last week.  I asked him if he wanted to go.  He loves treats.  "I'll get back to you, Mom," he said.  He never mentioned it again, and I didn't press the issue.

We still hide their gifts in the closet and wrap them when they've gone to sleep. In a few nights, I'll stage a break-in and arrange the presents under the tree. We'll stuff the stockings with gift cards and novelty items that will undoubtedly drive me crazy three days later, when I start finding them in the dryer and under their beds.

At this point, it seems they're just being cordial with regard to the ambiguous Christmas details.  I get the impression that they play along with our charade to protect my feelings.  They don't want me to know that they know what I know. They still have no idea what it is that I know, and I've been telling them that I know nothing for as long as I can remember.  I try to behave myself, and I suggest they do the same.  We're not supposed to overthink these things.

This year, I've been as good as it gets.  I'm hoping for that 'make your own' soda machine.  I deserve the modern miracle of in-home carbonation.  I do what I'm told and leave the cookies on the dish. Besides, why would I wanna fuck with Santa Claus?  That's for crazy people who have nothing to lose.

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