We have been answering that question ever since the first time our parents placed us on the lap of a store Santa. I’m sure none of us remember what we asked for at that first encounter with St. Nick, but as you got older, your answer was very important.
Like me, you probably spent a few months trying to decide what to ask Santa for. You didn’t want to waste it on something ridiculous, like a pony or a space ship. You compared notes with your cousins and schoolmates. No, you had to think long and hard about it.
Back then, we believed in the magic of Santa, never questioning the logistics behind it. There was no need to. The North Pole, flying reindeer, visiting every house in one night; Santa’s magic explained everything. With all that is going on in today’s world, we need someone we can trust and Santa rarely disappoints.
My fondest childhood memories were getting up early on Christmas morning to find out if Santa had come. Of course, we couldn’t open any presents before daylight, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t look at what was there, right? We had to be like ninjas, even though back then we didn’t know what a ninja was. We had to slowly sneak by our parent’s bedroom to get into the living room, where the Christmas tree was.
There were plenty of presents from Mom and Dad, but we were specifically looking for the presents we asked Santa for. Sometimes we might have to shake the box or squeeze it a little to make sure, but we couldn’t go back to bed until we found it. All in all, Santa rarely disappointed.
When we had children of our own, Christmas morning took on a whole new meaning. There was nothing like the look on the kids faces when they saw all the presents for the first time. Of course, as I found out in later years, they had also been playing Christmas ninja while we were sleeping. Guess the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.
We raised them on the magic of Santa and started our own holiday traditions. We always left cookies and milk for Santa on Christmas Eve, and he usually left them a nice thank-you note in return. More importantly, he always left them a special present.
Santa’s gifts were always labeled for them to see. Initially, he would mix his special gifts under the tree with all the others they received. During the carnage that is Christmas morning, the living room was strewn with torn Christmas wrapping paper and with open boxes, sometimes burying our dog, Harry. But it was always a special treat for them to come upon their special gifts from Santa. Like I said before, Santa rarely disappoints.
As they got older, Santa hid their gifts somewhere in the house instead of under the tree. This allowed them to open all their “regular” presents first and then begin “The Great Christmas Present Search” for their special Santa present. It could be anywhere in the house and Santa never left any clues. They had to search everywhere to find that gift. That Santa was a sly little devil, sometimes hiding the gifts in plain sight.
As we come upon another Christmas season, I’m glad that we can still believe in Santa’s magic. The older you get, the less material things you need. Unlike what you see on TV, nobody really expects to see a car in the driveway wrapped in a bow.
If I ran into Santa at the mall tomorrow and he asked me, “What do you want for Christmas?” I’d tell him, I just want to spend the holidays with my family. That’s the only gift I need, the warmth and love that only family can provide. And knowing Santa, he’ll use his magic and come through for us again.
Santa rarely disappoints.
Have a great holiday season, dear readers, and a happy and healthy New Year! See you all in 2019.
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.