All month long I’m going to be hosting the posts of other people as part of my 2015 Giftmas Blog Tour. All the guest bloggers are welcome to write about anything they’d like so long as their post touched on a December holiday in some way, no matter how tangentially. The blog tour extends beyond my blog as well, and I will do my best to link to each external post from the here and share them on social media using the hashtag #GiftmasTour.
But wait! There’s more!
We’re also giving away a whole whack of prizes (check out the list here) which you can enter to win using the Rafflecoper code below. Whatever December holiday you celebrate (or don’t) winning a stack of books will make it better!
by Jaylee James
When I was a little girl, Christmas was An Event, and Santa was real. My little brother and I would wake up Christmas morning to find the cookies we had left out were half-eaten, with a trail of crumbs leading to the fireplace. There would be bitten off pieces of carrots in the ashes – we always left carrots out for the reindeer, because they’d need a snack, too, after carrying a heavy sleigh all night! – and, of course, a pile of presents under the tree.
We wrote letters to Santa, detailing the gifts we wanted, and our mom would [quickly copy the contents of the lists for future reference] help us put them into envelopes, address them to Santa Claus, North Pole, and pop them in the mailbox.
One year, Santa wrote back, giving us a chore chart of specific activities guaranteed to get us on the Nice List – brushing our teeth, eating our vegetables, making our bed – with reindeer sticker to chronicle our progress. I worked diligently, mailed back my completed chart, and was rewarded with my greatest wish that year: an astronaut Barbie.
I even had an elaborate plan in place to stash pillows and blankets behind the couch on Christmas Eve, then wait until my parents were in bed. I would creep down to the living room and sleep there until the sounds of sleigh bells and a fat man crawling out of our chimney would wake me up, and I could catch him in the act. (Unfortunately, my parents stayed up too late that year and I fell asleep before they did. Mom was perplexed to find half my bedding behind the couch the next day.)
When I was seven, I was flipping through a catalogue in the passenger seat of my mom’s minivan, and I saw a Ralph the Mouse VHS. Somehow, the way my mother worded her sentence – “Yeah, we got that for you last year, remember,” – set off alarm bells in my first grade brain.
“No mom, Santa gave it to me,” I clarified.
But the look on her face… I knew she was lying.
It was like the clouds parted, a lightbulb came on… lots of things suddenly made sense that never did before. Like how on earth did Santa get down our chimney when the flue was always closed? How did someone described repeatedly as obese manage to squeeze through our flue anyway, closed or otherwise?
Mom explained the whole deal, and that I should be quiet about it, since my brother didn’t know. It was almost more magical than Santa himself. I was in on something, part of a grown up conspiracy to create magic for the younger kids. Magic that didn’t exist, but that we made real through trickery and games. It was awesome.
I faithfully fulfilled my end of the bargain, breathing not a word of it for years.
Until, at last, tragedy struck.
My mom had been to Macy’s, and their holiday shopping bags said something to the effect of, “Santa’s gift bag” on it. My brother was confused, asking my Dad why they would say that. Santa didn’t shop at Macy’s. Santa didn’t shop at all.
And to my horror, instead of coming up with a plausible lie, my Dad sat my little brother down and told him the truth.
You don’t just tell a kid Santa’s not real! That was Adult Conspiracy Top Secret Club Rule #1!
Christmas was ruined.
I ran upstairs with all of my ten-year-old outrage and threw myself on my mom’s bed. “He told him! Dad told him it wasn’t real!” I was heartbroken. “Does this mean we can’t have Santa anymore?”
My mom gave me a weird look. “Just because we’re not doing Santa anymore doesn’t mean you’ll never get Christmas presents. You’ll still get presents from me and your dad and your grandparents.”
She was entirely missing the point. “But no more cookies? No carrots for the reindeer or coming downstairs to a tree full of gifts that were all hidden the night before?” No more magic?
Mom quickly de-escalated the situation and promised that we could do Santa, and could keep doing Santa as long as I wanted.
Books and movies share this in common with the conspiracy of Santa Claus… they all create magic out of thin air. They tell a story, a fiction, and it draws you in. We do this as writers, just like parents do with their kids at Christmas. With nothing but words and imagination (and maybe a little bit of conspiratorial cooperation), we can make a miracle.
And that, kids, is why I am 26-years-old and still leave cookies out for Santa. Because I believe, wholeheartedly, in the magic of make believe.
Jaylee James is a writer of science fiction, fantasy, romance, and variations thereof. She is most well known as the Senior Editor of the LGBT lit mag Vitality Magazine. Her work has appeared in Wings of Renewal, a solarpunk dragon anthology, and her time-travel romance short, Choosing You, was released in November. Visit her at JayleeJames.com to learn more about her upcoming projects.