Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Past: A Slip of the Tongue

My mother has always been an inveterate supporter of Santa Claus. Even after all of us girls had figured out who delivered the presents, we played along. It seemed so wrong to rob Mom of her little secret.

Every year, we'd make a list for Santa. The entire family would make our annual Christmas shopping trek to the nearest mall in Springfield, a 90 minute drive from our rural home. At some point in our day, Mom would disappear for a while under the cover of a lame excuse. The funniest was the year that she told us an upset stomach had her in the mall bathroom for over an hour. She delivered that excuse while devouring a slice of sausage pizza. Anyway, while we were shopping, she would surreptitiously put items on hold at the counter. Then once she'd made her excuse, she'd fly back through the mall picking up all the held items and ferrying them out to the car where they would be hidden under a blanket in the trunk. We would surely never notice that the blanket was a little lumpier by the end of the day! Once at home, the gifts were safely hidden away from eyes that never really pried. We carried on in this manner for years.

Mom finally slipped in 1990. I was a sophomore in college and was home for break. Mom had gotten a beautiful embroidered jacket for me. It was very expensive. I'd tried it on at the urging of a store clerk who thought the green color would complement my eyes. I fell in love with it, then looked at the price tag. $145! Scandalous! I gave it back to the clerk and told Mom I'd check the clearance rack in a few months. When I saw the jacket next to my stocking on Christmas morning, I shrieked, "Thank you so much, Mom!" Mom replied, "You're welcome!" Then she stopped, realizing that she'd actually admitted to the Santa Claus racket. We all laughed, both relieved and disappointed that the game was over.


Bethany said...

What a great story. :) Merry Christmas!

Mary Witzl said...

For some reason, this made me feel like crying -- the thought of a mother going to so much trouble to please and surprise her children every Christmas. My mother tried to do this, too, though she finally had to give up when my older sister challenged her one year. I always rather missed the sense of drama after I knew The Truth about Santa Claus...