Note: I almost didn’t publish this because I thought it made me look crazy. Please know that I still have that part of my brain that tells me I’m overreacting and . . . WAIT, WHAT WAS THAT NOISE?
I thought that I would be honest with my child that (spoiler) there is no Santa. She still has no idea what’s going on for the holidays, but as she gets older, I can sense that Santa and the gang will appear in her world a lot sooner than I planned. I have to get my story straight. I’m not into lying to her, and I also don’t want Santa to be a big deal in our house.
My mom told us that Santa was a character like Mickey Mouse, which is fair. I don’t feel like that ruined childhood. In fact, I don’t even remember her telling me that, just her telling me that she told me. I do remember being a child and thinking that I heard sleigh bells outside on Christmas Eve, although I kinda knew that I was only overhearing Christmas music on the radio in another room. Also one year I left out milk and cookies for Santa and on Christmas morning THEY WERE STILL THERE. COME ON! I might have been in middle school at the time, so it’s quite possible that my parents just thought that one of us didn’t bother to put away our plate and glass. My childlike belief in Santa soon snowballed into “Does God exist?” and then I think I started to catch episodes of “Mr. Show” and went to college and learned about the Taliban. Santa/God/belief/faith got squashed down in there and I always assumed I wouldn’t tell my children that he existed.
Now that I’m a mom I’m on the fence about things like Santa and the Easter Bunny (Innocent child’s possible query: “Why does a rabbit dispense eggs in our backyard on the day that Target is closed?”). I like my mom’s idea of Santa as a character, or making it open-ended and coyly saying “I don’t know? Is that Santa? He looks real to me. Let’s go get a giant cookie. Mall!”
I had a couple of incidents that made me realize that if my child is old enough to ask about Santa she might be old enough to catch on that I’m currently afraid of all strangers and think everyone is trying to attack me. I say “everyone” now because at first I was afraid that I was profiling, but then I realized that I wait to get out of my car until a man of any race or age walks far away from me (neighborhood muggings seem to target people walking from their cars to the front door). I thought I was just afraid of men. Then last week as I buckled my daughter up after a doctor’s visit, a well-dressed white woman milled around at the car next to me and I went on high alert because she was going to stick a gun into my back and take my purse. Why else would someone be hanging out in a pediatrician’s parking lot without a child? Obvious answer, thought of about 45 minutes later: she was maybe a pharmaceutical representative who also parked next to me.
Immediately after that I was at Wal-Mart. I hate Wal-Mart. Shopping there makes me feel like I’m committing crimes against humanity but also being there makes me want to commit crimes against humanity. As I was carrying my child a man walks up to us and asks me a million questions about her and then says “oh, I can’t bother you,” while I randomly reply and wait for him to grab my purse and/or baby (also, I’m Penny’s mom from “Hairspray”). True to his word, he leaves me to follow another woman who is walking alone to her car and messes with her. When I get inside I tell an employee that there’s a man in the parking lot following people to their cars (which, even if you aren’t super paranoid about being attacked, is not okay) and she smiles like she doesn’t hear me.
I realize later that she was actually just laughing at me, because she was talking to him like they were old friends and told him to be good. He immediately walks out of the store with me and another woman and talks about the other woman’s ass, and then asks me all the same questions about my baby, follows me to my car, and asks me for 55 cents. I tell him I can’t help him, and within seconds he is across the giant parking lot bothering some other fellow.
I guess it was my mood and the lousy weather but it infuriated me that any business tolerated this behavior. I probably took this way more seriously than I should have, but I also don’t trust anyone near me or my child or my car or my stuff or my house or in general. I’m just tired of vandalism and crime and I don’t want to die by flash mob. I used to be really afraid of things like this when I was a child, and then it faded away. I guess being a property owner and mom or someone who reads a neighborhood blog with criminal activity reports on it had made me a little on edge before, but the increase in vandalism and petty crime in our neighborhood that we and our neighbors have been victims to is surely what has set me off.
Back to Santa. I just need to learn to get myself together if my child is ever going to get the chance to believe that I’m okay with some strange man coming into my house in the middle of the night while we’re all asleep.
We don’t have a chimney anyway.