There's an idea I've been toying around with in my head for some time. A post about those moments in life that you always seem to remember, no matter how many years go by. They're the ones that sneak up on you when you least expect it. Late at night just before you drop off to sleep, or on your morning drive to work when your mind is wandering. They're not the ones that brought you the most joy ... or the ones that made you the most ashamed. But they are clarifying, and sometimes signify a passage in your life.
Being that it's almost Christmas, I'll share the moment that I realized that there was no Santa Claus.
Actually, it was more than a moment. As I remember, it took me about 10 seconds to put two and two together, which might or might not have been a slow reaction time.
My parents had always been Santa oriented. Nothing under the tree on Christmas morning was from them. It was all from Santa. And they were good at the game. So good, that it wasn't until my seventh year that I stumbled on the truth.
My Dad was in the long, slow process of turning the attached garage in our small ranch house into a family room, a popular do-it-yourself option during the late 50's.
One evening, several weeks before Christmas, he was up in the attic, running some wiring, and while he was down at the far end of the space, I inched my way up the ladder to take a look, because I had never seen this nether region of the house.
As my head cleared the crawl hole, before me was a Chatty Cathy doll in her box, a toy fire engine and several other toys. As my mind processed this visual information at the speed of mud, the simple equation evolved ... Santa = Parents.
Making sure my Dad hadn't seen me, I slowly made my way down the ladder and walked over to the steps transitioning the utility room from the garage/soon-to-be family room and sat down.
Wow ... No Santa ... But I surprised myself. I didn't feel disappointed. I didn't feel sad. Strangely, I felt empowered. I knew something now that my parents didn't think I knew. And my sisters didn't know it either.
Yeah, I could have blabbed ... blabbed to everyone in the house. But I didn't. It made me feel ... grown up. And grown up isn't something a seven-year old feels too often.
A first step on a road that never ends.