The Pen is Mightier than the Santa

Here is a much different kind of flashback.

I am seven.

It is Christmas morning.

The tradition when I was a child, and the one I implemented in my own household, was that Santa brought ONE present.


My parents wanted the gratitude oriented properly.

I was good with that too, once Santa was coming for my son.

So, back to seven-year-old-me, who despite being a smart-aleck know-it-all is, of course, adorable.

I have received my Santa gift.

Which probably had something to do with Barbie.

Something nagged at me while I was opening the gift.

This is odd…this is odd…

But in the desperate need to get to the Barbie thing I pushed the nagging thought away.

I had my priorities straight.


And while I tear into the cardboard of the Barbie thing – it was probably a house, that plastic diva has  more real estate than Donald Trump – the nagging thought shoved harder at my brain.

NOT NOW! I told it, and continued to hack my way through the box with seven-year-old Ginsu fingers.

Once I had Barbie and her split-level investment portfolio free from her cardboard box and had admired it properly for a while, I let the nagging thought take center stage in my brain.

I pawed through the pile of wrapper and found the tag from the gift.

It said, “To Lori. From Santa.”

In a distinctive, slanted, neat, cursive script.

A script with which I was intimately familiar.

It was on every birthday card I had ever received, on every note that accompanied me to school, on every OTHER tag on every OTHER gift that had been under the tree.

Nooooo…… thought seven-year-old me.

I walked into my mother’s bedroom where she was applying her makeup. I held the smoking gun in my hand.

“Mom, this is your handwriting,” I announced, as ponderously as if I was accusing her of human trafficking.

Her head shifted very slightly my way before she went back to her eyeliner. “Uh huh,” she said.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“What do you think it means?” she replied.

I walked away, still holding the tag in my hands.

A few minutes later I returned to the bedroom and asked, “Does this also mean that there is no Tooth Fairy and no Easter Bunny?”

This time she turned to face me. “Figure it out, honey.”

“Huh.” I said, and walked away.

So, thought my little underdeveloped brain, none of these things are real. But I still WANT Easter Baskets. I still WANT money for doing nothing except growing new teeth. I still REALLY REALLY WANT Santa presents.

I spied my little brother and the answer became crystal clear. As long as my little brother believed in these magical gift-bestowing creatures, they would still come. They wouldn’t come for him and not me, they’d always come for BOTH of us. And I could cash…in!

On that chilly Christmas morning a plan was hatched wherein I commit myself to making sure that my brother believed in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy at least until he went off to college, if not longer.

So no one tell him about this, okay?


  1. This is how I figured it out too, so at my house, Santa only brings one gift…it can’t be too expensive so that he can give gifts to all the boys and girls (this prevents me from having to buy an outrageous gift that I can’t afford or find), and it is the one that isn’t wrapped!

    Very clever with the whole little brother thing…it can be very useful to have siblings :)

  2. We didn’t actually do Santa Gifts, we did Santa Stockings, which mostly consisted of things like toothbrushes, candy (nice combo, no?), one piece of pretty jewelry, a book…stuff like that. It kind of morphed when we grew up into one or two presents under the tree, and one HUGE STOCKING full of little stuff which got more expensive as the years passed, but still usually included toothbrushes (I kill toothbrushes like my redneck buddies kill Budweisers). Also, I started doing my Mother’s Stocking, my brother started doing my Father’s stocking, and any spouses got their stockings done by the kid in the family who married them. My own dear Alan hubby loves this so much that he even bought stockings for the cats, which are hung on the mantel with ours.

  3. I go to such elaborate lengths to make sure my kids can’t make a connection between us and Santa. We use special “Santa” wrapping paper and I write their tags with my left hand. It’s crazy, but I want them to keep the magic for as long as possible.

    Oh, and when I was young? I never told my parents I didn’t believe in Santa anymore. I figured I got more gifts if I still believed in Santa. I think I was like 10 or 11 when my mom was like, “You don’t still believe in Santa, do you?” Ha.

  4. God, I wish I had thought of that one gift from Santa idea, because I go nuts trying to split the gifts fairly so some still come from Mom and Dad, etc.

    I may tell my kids that Santa has changed his policy for this year :)

    I am like kmama when it comes to masking the Santa stuff. I change my handwriting, use special paper, the whole bit.

    But like KLZ’s story yesterday, this story scares me, because my kid is 7.5. And he lost a tooth last night. As I placed the money under his pillow, I thought of KLZ and wondered if he was just faking his belief to get the money.

    I have a 7 year old and I am jaded. WAHH!!!

  5. We do only one gift, too. And some stocking crap. But the pen AND wrapping paper is how I found out. It wasn’t even much of a discussion, tho, other than “tell your brother and you’re dead!”

  6. I usually got letters from Santa (and various bunnies & fairies, depending on the season) and they were always in my mom’s handwriting. I suspect that was because my dad had terrible handwriting. I’m not sure there was ever a moment that I had the Santa realization. I think I just kinda figured it out.

    Also? I’m realizing that I’m not doing enough to “disguise” Santa in our house. I’d better practice the left-handed “Santa.”

  7. In our house, even after you knew, you couldn’t let on like you knew. You had to act as if you believed every bit that Santa was coming down that chimney. My mom always said, “if you believe, you receive” – so I believed. End of story.

  8. My Dad actually created an entire script style for Santa, and it was never seen anywhere else throughout the years. I hope somewhere I was clever enough to save one of his “thank you for the milk and cookies” notes.

    He’s a sneaky one. With excellent manners.

  9. I started to get an inkling when Santa left me note about how he didn’t give me a talking Oscar The Grouch because he didn’t like the way Oscar talked. It just sounded way too much like Mom. I found out years later that she searched high and low for that toy, but it didn’t exist! Poor Mom!

  10. our stockings were full from santa…no tags. you knew it was yours because it was in your stocking. santa was smart in my house.

    i don’t remember “finding out” about santa. is that odd?

  11. And that is why we don’t wrap Santa presents. The one gift idea is something I should probably start this year. Although, after wrapping gifts for the entire extended family, it’s nice to just leave the kids stuff to place under the tree for xmas morning.

  12. What are you trying to tell me?!?!
    I like your idea of ONE Santa gift (and the rest from Mom and Dad) I will toss it by my hubby …

  13. Hehehe. Awesome. Actually, call me “Scrooge”, but I hate Santa. That’s what I’ve decided this year. Maybe I’ll do what your parents did and give one gift. I’m sick of Santa taking all the credit for my hard work.

  14. LMAO, love it Lori!

    When I was growing up, Santa didn’t wrap. When I met my husband, Santa always wrapped for his kids (which I think is a BAD idea, for exactly the reason you illustrate). So I at least tried to be a stepmom that kept the magic alive and used different paper, writing, etc. But now they’re too old for Santa…can’t decide if that’s good or bad. :-/

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