- For Teachers
Hidden Truth, Hidden Lies
It was December. The colors red and green were plastered on every wall, in every yard, and upon every house across as far as my little eyes could see. I didn’t enjoy what I saw anymore because I learned a lesson that I never wished to learn at the time: that Santa Claus didn’t exist. My mind froze in utter disbelief … my mom led me to believe that he was real all my life. She led me to believe a lie. I sat in my room on Christmas Eve, persistent on sitting there until the day after Christmas. In my mind, if I never left my room, I wouldn’t have to be exposed to anymore lies. My mind just couldn’t take it. When I realized that Santa Claus wasn’t real, I became skeptical about my mom.
My mom is a very loving woman who cared about preserving my innocence. She prolonged my belief in the fat man that was shaped like a cloud: big and fluffy. This is the same fat man that flew around the world in one night with magical flying deer as companions. Even as a child, I knew that it was a leap, a huge leap, of faith to take everyone’s word that it was so, but I didn’t feel that my mom, or the rest of the world for that matter, could be wrong … much less lying. Since my mom was the only person that I had to rely on, she was the only one that I could trust. I had no reason not to. Ultimately, I believed in the ridiculous story. She always felt that people needed something to believe in to remain sane. “If you don’t stand for somethin’, you’ll fall for any-thang,” she would say in her usual country twang. I was on cloud nine, in love with the thought of such a caring man wanting to give kids toys.
When I was told that he was made up, I fell through that feeling of being on a soft cloud. I was falling all right, and it wasn’t like the cutesy kind where people are becoming infatuated, either. This was the kind of falling like I had been pushed over the side of a cliff … like I was falling into a trench that didn’t have a soft place for me to land. Yeah, I was pushed … just like I was pushed to believing and pushed into growing up. I felt like I was in a game of “tug a war,” but I was the rope. I was being shifted from one side of reality to the next: innocence versus reality. If I were to be the rope in “real life,” I don’t know how long I would’ve lasted because every fiber that would have made me up would have snapped. The same snapping effect that was taking place inside of my four-foot tall body. I went from being happily blinded by reality to brutally exposed to it at the same ratio of a car going from zero to sixty in eight seconds. This made my mood swing from confusion to rage.
Firstly, I was upset that I was lied to about Santa Claus. He was like my role model at the time because I looked up to his ability to selflessly care for everyone else. Secondly, I was distraught that he would never be a part of my life, like before. This state of shock caused an epiphany that he was forever gone. Thirdly, I was utterly pissed off because the process of telling me that he was non-existent could’ve been taken with an easier approach. When she bluntly said, “Look a-here, Santa Claus ain’t real,” it caught me off guard, and it made my immature mind reject the idea.
“No, no, no!” I would say because it couldn’t be so.
It took me quite some time to accept the idea that it was over: Santa Claus was over and being a dumb-founded, innocent child was over. I could no longer wake up on Christmas day with a grin that stretched from ear to ear because I knew that Santa Claus had got past my mom to leave me gifts. I could no longer look at the plate of crumbs that replaced the two, palm-sized, chocolate chip cookies, or the milk level in the clear glass cup be considerably lower than when I left it there the night before and know that it was truly him. I couldn’t look at my mom the same way, either.
My mom had plotted around my back, but now it was my turn. I was determined that I would stay up the next Christmas and catch her in the act of pretending to be my best friend in a bright red suit. I would also find the stashed gifts that she had hidden in a closet or under a bed. I knew that if it were just my mom, she couldn’t possibly do all of the things that she did in years past, while I knew about it.
By the next year, I think that she had that assumption, too, because she went about her season planning nonchalantly. She raised a proposition for me. She talked to me about being like “Santa’s little helper.”
“Like an elf?” I had asked with my eyes as big as they could be, my eyebrows raised higher than ever, and my voice’s pitch rising with each spoken syllable.
“Yes, like an elf,” she reassured me.
My rage that had been exponentially building up over the course of the year suddenly vanished and transformed into happiness. I was beginning to transition from child to pre-teenager with much more ease because I could now reap the benefits of growing up. As childish as this may sound, but I was a child, I loved the idea of getting something out of it … even if I got something out of being lied to. At least now I could be a part of something “grown up.” For once, I was no longer the kid that had everything kept from him, like the truth.
Even though I was okay with the fact that Santa Claus wasn’t real, I couldn’t shake the fact that my own mother had lied to me … not just once, but twice. Contrary to popular belief, she could still lie to me. If I was that easily lied to as her child, what else could she be hiding from me?
If I couldn’t tell the truth from a lie, then all of her words would then be lies. Even the most ordinary things she said to me sounded like deceit, “Ya know, the Easter Bunny’s coming soon … you had better be a good boy.” The utter betrayal filled my ears, wrapped around my heart, and convinced my mind that she could never be telling the truth. I wouldn’t believe her when she said that the Easter Bunny would bring me chocolates on Easter Sunday, that the Tooth Fairy would leave me a dollar in exchange for my tooth, or that she would be at my birthday, graduation, or wedding. There is no point in having high hopes in things that will never come true.