As a child, I was petrified of Santa Claus. Absolutely scared out of my mind to the point that my brothers both had to sleep in my bed with me until I was about 13 years old. I was a long believer in Santa, perhaps because I was the oldest child in the family and had no one else telling me he wasn’t real.

Even after I waddled downstairs while in the first grade at 3am because I was too scared to sleep and saw my mom stuffing a Barbie magazine into my stocking, I still believed.

At age 12, I remember talking on the phone with my cousin on Christmas morning, going over the presents that we got, and saying “He has to be real. How can parents have enough money for all these presents?” [FYI: I’m still trying to figure that one out. And I’m not yet a parent.]

On Christmas morning we’d always have a note from Santa. This was not a “Thanks for the cookies” note. This was a hand-written novel – pages and pages long. And we had to read it before opening our presents. It was torture! It would include details of our lives that year, witty anecdotes about neighbors, family and friends, and always something that scared the wits out of me, such as, “Jessica, you looked so peaceful while you were sleeping that I bent down and gave you kiss on the forehead.” I was so afraid of Santa that those words seriously gave me nightmares. Sorry, Dad Santa.

I remember exactly where the note sat in our old house where we lived until I was eight years old. “Santa” even left some soot on the carpet from where he came down the chimney. Clever, no? Once we moved in to a new house, Santa’s notes hung from the staircase, tied with ribbon. Then one year, Santa typed us a note with the new computer he got us. I have a feeling Santa found that typing his note was much more time efficient and he enjoyed the new computer just as much as we did. I’m also sure that as sad as it must be when kids stop believing, Santa must have found it refreshing to sleep in later than 5am on Christmas morning.

I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self to relish in the magic of Christmas. It goes so quickly and then we spend the rest of our lives trying to get that magic back, but it’s never quite the same.
I still want to believe in Santa.