December 23, 2007
Santa Claus Conquers the Martian
Schuyler prepared for her audience with Santa just like she did last year, although her list was shorter and weirder this go around. ("I want magic wand and roller skates." I hate to tell you, little friend, but Santa might just veto the skates. That idea has tragedy and the emergency room written all over it.) The wait in line wasn't as grueling as last year, thanks in large part to a balloon-artist elf (she asked for and received "monkey and banana") who also did magic, much to Schuyler's amazement. Pull a ball out of her nose and you've got her undivided attention.
This year, Santa was different from last time. He wasn't in his full-on red suit uniform, but was in his "hanging around the toy shop, throwing back some nog with the elves" outfit. Just like last year, however, Schuyler seemed to tap into some deeper well of attention from him. When she broke out her device and said "Hello Santa!", he asked me if she signed. I said that she did a little, and once they were done, he signed "thank you", to her delight. He listened intently, and his voice cracked a little when he told us sternly "You make sure this little girl gets what she wants!"
(I was thinking, "Dude, you're Santa, you're the one bringing presents, remember? Don't be outing us like that!")
Schuyler wrote out what I thought was supposed to be a list, but the whole thing was in an undecipherable Martian scribble, except for the last few words, "...for me. Love Schuyler" She brought it with her, but in the excitement of seeing Santa, she forgot about it until we were standing at the cashier's station paying. Julie gave it to the cashier elf to give to Santa. She tried to hand it to him, but he waved Schuyler back, sat her back in his lap as they looked at it together.
"Now, you go home and put this under your tree, and when I come to your house, I'll see it and remember what you asked for." She nodded, carefully folded the note and walked reluctantly away, turning to wave goodbye to him a few times.
This was only Schuyler's second visit with Santa, but like last year, it was a good one. Her visit with Santa last Christmas was so special that it made it into the book, but this year was just as good in its own way. This year, she was more confident and relaxed, a big girl who had already met The Man before. No need to be so nervous this year. She and Santa are buds now.
I have no idea how much longer she'll believe in Santa, or how much she even believes in him now. Sometimes she'll act like a pill, and when one of us hauls out the big guns ("Do you want us to call Santa and tell him what a turd you're being?"), she gets genuinely upset, so clearly he's got plenty of power in her world. I sometimes wonder if she'll be too jaded for Santa one day, but I suspect that even after she figures it out, she'll keep playing along, just for her poor father's benefit. I think she probably knows how sad I'll be when Santa's gone, and as she's shown time and again, she won't abide my sadness if she can help it. And she can usually help it.
I don't know. Perhaps Santa is Schuyler's gift to us, and not the other way around.