The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Tare or in which Christmas is unwrapped

Rachael Conlin Levy

Unwrapping Christmas
Santa delivers. Christmas, 2009.

  1. The weight of the wrapping or the container that holds the object.

Two months ago, my son Sam decided to ask Santa Claus for an Apple laptop despite being told that the jolly elf wouldn’t deliver such a gift. All this 9-year-old boy knew was that Santa granted wishes and this was his heart’s desire. Sam reasoned that classmates had received Nintendos and computers, so he couldn’t understand what price and parental veto power had to do with it.

Because he believed in the power of Santa, Sam remained optimistic despite my warnings of disappointment, my explanations that some things one must buy oneself, my skepticism over the gift’s usefulness given his weekly computer time limit of 45 minutes.

A wish granted
Sam, when he believed
When wishes came true, 2009.

Optimistic, that was, until this past weekend.

“Mom, is Santa real?” he asked as he followed me around the grocery store.

I pretended not to hear the question and sent him to pick out brussel sprouts.

“Mom, do you believe in Santa?”

I told him I believed in everything Santa represented: love, kindness, magic, giving. We talked about why Santa doesn’t bring gifts for parents, why children are given different gifts and why those gifts aren’t always fair and equal, we talked our way out of the grocery store, down the road and back into the kitchen where he asked, again, if Santa was real.

I looked at Sam, his ocean eyes somber, his mouth drawn into a serious line. This was my son who once confided in me that he wanted to be Santa when he grew up because he would be able to eat cookies and milk all the time and live forever. Now he had poked holes in the wrapping of his belief, but the tare was heavy and he couldn’t or wouldn’t take that final step to expose the lie told in love.

Sam, aspiring to be Santa.

I sighed, smiled, then shook my head no. Five minutes later I found him curled up on the couch, silently crying. I stroked his hair and rubbed his back.

“Thank  you,” he whispered.

“For what? For disappointing you?”

“Now I won’t wonder why I don’t get some things other kids get, and I won’t try to explain it.”

4 responses to “Tare or in which Christmas is unwrapped”

  1. What a sweet sweet little guy.

  2. anno says:

    Tough conversation, but it sounds like you handled it all just right. And his response seemed remarkably thoughtful and wonderful. … Any chance he could get to BE Santa this year in any small way, and of course enjoy cookies and milk afterward?

    Love the title for this post: pure poetry…

  3. I always dread that conversation. I love the way you handled it though. So, what does this mean for Max?

  4. Rachael Levy says:

    I have to agree, Denise. He's one of the sweetest boys I know.

    Anno, that's a good idea and one I'm going to chew on and figure out how to implement in some way. Thank you.

    Max is still a believer, Kyndale, and the sweetest thing is how careful the other two are to not spoil it for him.

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