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My Turn: Grandpa enlists grandma to extend Santa magic

On Christmas Day 2001, Bobby Smoller of Jericho

On Christmas Day 2001, Bobby Smoller of Jericho dressed as Santa Claus to try to extend the time her grandson would believe he existed. Credit: Mark Smoller

This time of year brings back so many wonderful memories of Christmases past and of the generations from my grandparents to my grandchildren with whom I shared those experiences.

I recall the last time I dressed for Christmas — donned the suit and whiskers, and nose and boots and glasses, complete with pillow tucked into my red suit. I had suited up through all my children’s early years, and reprised the role once again for my grandchildren.

On Christmas morning my wife and I would roll out of bed by 5 a.m. I would suit up with all the paraphernalia and tiptoe into the den where the presents were placed in front of the fireplace.

When each child or children, or grandchildren came in, there was Santa, finishing up his delivery, and about to leave, though he was inhaling the last of his milk and cookies for a quick getaway.

There ensued a quick and hearty laugh, a warm hello and the exchange of some pleasantries, and off I’d go, out the door to another entrance to my house where I would discard the attire and dress in my usual clothes. I knew the jig was up when one particular kid began to figure out that I was never there when Santa was there. Though my goose was about cooked, I never fretted too much about the ruse being over because there was always another grandchild ready to meet the famous man.

Finally the last of our brood, who is a very bright young man. At the age of 6 he realized that I was the missing man all the time. Though he said he was sorry that I never got to see Santa, I could tell that he was starting the figure the whole thing out. I realized that this game was coming to an end. But not yet. Oh, no — no 6-year-old was going to outsmart me! I wasn’t ready to grow up myself. So, the following Christmas I put into effect the plot that I had conceived the year before. It would definitely make that bright little fellow see that everything was not always what it seemed to be.

At 5 o’clock Christmas morning, we rolled out of bed as usual, but instead of dressing myself as Santa, I dressed my loving wife. She looked the perfect part. She donned the whiskers and nose, and glasses and the entire outfit, an extra pillow and she was all set to go. Stealthily we set ourselves up in the den and awaited the arrival of our little grandson. He came flying in, and I could tell by the look on his face that he was expecting to see his grandmother with Santa. Lo and behold! There I was and I was standing next to Santa. His eyes opened wide and he gasped. I had done it. I had outwitted a 7-year-old, and given myself one more year of fantasy.

He is an adult now, out in the real world, and he does not harbor any ill feelings toward me for having kept him in his wonderful world of make believe for one more time. The next day his father told him about Santa. He commented at that time that Santa appeared a little shorter than he had remembered, and his voice was much higher, but other than that, he loved his Santa just as much.

Mark Smoller,


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