Here’s what happened this Christmas

11 pm. Christmas Eve. The house has just gone silent. The children have been up for unusually long while I have been waiting for them to sleep off so I can complete my Santa duties.

It’s been a while since the Santa myth got busted. Amidst plenty of tears, I might add. However, as a silly game/ritual of sorts, gifts have continued to ‘appear’ under the tree.

To establish ‘full and final proof’ of Santa’s non-existence, the children have taken it upon themselves to either ‘catch me’ in the act of putting the gifts there — they have failed each year; or to get me to admit to it — I have stubbornly refused to do so.

The challenge for me now is to not get caught while executing the entire enterprise. Gifts have to be bought, wrapped and placed under the tree in absolute secrecy and are to be opened with suitable gasps of surprise.

The children, specially N, drop not-so-subtle hints as Christmas approaches which I dutifully pick up and act upon.

Gifting N is easy. She always has a long list of things she ‘absolutely needs’. I remember, when she was about 6, for many months she went on and on about a tiara she had seen somewhere. Her picture from that Christmas morning, under the tree in her night suit, a huge smile on her face and a tiara on her head is one of my favourites. 

Now her wishlist includes things like art material, a crop top she saw online or a sequel to a book she’s reading. Small, easy-to-get things which I can order over Amazon.

H on the other hand is the hardest person to get anything for. His wishlist is starkly minimal, exorbitantly expensive and not at all Christmasy. What kind of gifts do boys like anyway?

Clothes or shoes don’t excite him (he has been wearing the same colour, same brand tees and shorts/jeans for years now), nor does he want books (which he borrows from friends or from our own library). 

When he was younger he wanted a play-station, now he wants a laptop! Not something I can order during a short respite on a busy day. The one saving grace is that he is fond of chocolates – darker the better. So that’s the route I pick, looking for unusual chocolates to fill his stocking.

Wrapping the gifts is the next hurdle. With the children around all day, there’s little concept of privacy. Last year I sat in the loo with ribbons and wrapping paper.

This year, with the gifts packed and ready in two neat little bags, I crept around in the dark planning to put them behind the tree. Before I knew it, I tripped on a fairy-light and the entire tree, lights and all, came crashing down with ornaments strewn all over the room. Keeping as quiet as possible I did my best to set it right. I’m sure the children heard me but perhaps they were comfortably ensconced in their beds, and so none of them came out to check.

Next morning they stood around the tree pretending to be puzzled. 

‘How did you drop those?’ H asked, pointing to the ornaments on the floor I had overlooked. If he was hoping to catch me off guard and admit it was I who had upset the tree, he would have to try again.
‘What? Who dropped the tree? I slept off before you guys,’ I bluffed. I haven’t played kachchi golis, you see. 
‘That must have been Santa. His sack might have knocked it off,’ I added, keeping a straight face.
‘I heard you’, said H.
‘You heard him, you mean’, I corrected him.
‘Mama, stop pretending’, said N with an eyeroll, ‘We’re 17!’
‘So what? Santa visits children of all ages’, I say.

A few more eye rolls later, they reached for their gift bags.

‘Which is mine?, asked H and I realised I had forgotten to put names on the bags, though the gifts inside did have name tags.
‘They must be the same. We can take any, I suppose’, said N.

And they picked up the wrong bags!

‘Maybe the gifts have names on them’, I suggested. 
They laughed, read the tags and exchanged bags.

N’s package had two books. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan and LM Montgomery’s Anne of Avonlea, the sequel to Anne of Green Gables, her choices a testament to the girl-woman N is becoming – a bit of a feminist yet with a childlike delight in Anne’s adventures.

H’s bag had Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead. He recently finished Orwell’s 1984 and has since then rejected all lighter reads I suggested. I’m hoping this one will hold his interest.

They opened the books. And right there on the first page I’d put inscriptions for both of them blithely signing them off as ‘Mama’ instead of ‘Santa’, to their immense amusement and jubilation!

And that’s how finally my cover was blown.

How did your Christmas go?

Will look forward to hearing from all of you (provided I can fix my comment section which has been giving me grief for the longest time). Meanwhile wishing you a wonderful, peaceful 2024.

2 Replies to “Here’s what happened this Christmas”

  1. Enjoyed this twice, Tulika. The first time I read it, I couldn’t comment. Glad you fixed that.
    It made such a fun read again today! Hats of to you for keeping the tradition alive and attempting to keep the myth going too~

    1. Thank you for visiting Corrine and for making the effort to comment twice. You’re the first person I’ve heard from in ever so long. I do hope issues with comments are over.

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