What I Need Now is a Polar Express

I’m lying in bed, scrawling this post on a piece of paper. It’s 12:13 Christmas morning.

Downstairs my parents are sticking candy canes on the tree, and shoving presents under it (no longer labeled “Santa”; none of these are explicitly from Santa anymore), with the help of my grandparents.

They’re keeping no secret about it. (My dad just ran up to my room and stuck a present on the foot of my bed.) I’ve long ago lost the desire to keep one ear up all night, waiting for sleigh bells outside the window and hooves on the roof.

There weren’t any cookies or milk for Santa this year. I forgot to lay out cookies and milk.

I used to get up at 5:45 AM on Christmas and bounce all around the upper floors of my house – my parents put up a gate on the stairs, the kind that’s supposed to keep babies from falling down them, to keep me from rushing to the tree and ripping open presents.

I did this because I was charged with so much buildup; several hours agonizing over which tree to chop down, an evening moulding and decorating Christmas cookies, a morning at the Santa Breakfast at my elementary school telling Santa what I want to see in my stocking.

I missed all that this year. These outings are non-events now. I was on the computer or sleeping or at friends’ houses while my younger siblings went and enjoyed the pre-Christmas delights.

It’s easy for them. They only just stopped believing in Santa Clause, one or two years ago.

When I still believed in Santa Clause – that was five or six Christmases ago – the holiday songs were pure delight, harbingers of the day when the fat jolly man would fit himself down my chimney. When I still believed in Santa Clause, winter was the best season of the year.

Now, the songs all sound annoying to me. I preside over December like a featureless gargoyle, noting nothing, except that it’s a little colder now. Oh, and what’s this tree doing in our living room?

And every year is just getting worse and worse!

But there’s a light at the end of a tunnel. Soon, I’ll be Santa Clause. I’ll be the one supplying the toys. I’ll be up at 1 AM, not hiding in my room but hiding the presents. And the tree and the cookies and the songs and the Santa Breakfast will return with a newly championed brilliance.

And I’ll get a new kind of warm feeling, and the joke will be on my kids, as they open their presents that I’ll never need to get thanked for and I smile groggily, digesting the cookies and milk, happy with the knowledge that for a few special people I turned this day into the most joyous day of the year.

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