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.
HERE IT IS! HERE IS MY PRESENT! IT IS THE BEST PRESENT FROM SANTA EVER! SANTA LOVES ME MORE THAN HE HAS EVER LOVED ANY OTHER GIRL OR ICKY BOY EVER ESPECIALLY MY LITTLE BROTHER!
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?