Friday, December 21, 2007

POETRY FRIDAY: The Death of Santa Claus

Do you remember when and how you found out that there was no such person as Santa Claus? I learned when I was in the first grade. I think I had just turned six. I don’t recall who told me…or if I just figured it out myself. I guess I’ve always been a bit of a skeptic. Maybe my older sister was the bearer of the bad news. I can't remember how I felt when I realized there was no Santa Claus—but I can imagine that I must have been shocked and saddened.

Here is my contribution to Poetry Friday this week. WARNING: Do not let the little Santa believers in your house read this poem!

The Death of Santa Claus
by Charles Webb

He's had the chest pains for weeks,
but doctors don't make house
calls to the North Pole,

he's let his Blue Cross lapse,
blood tests make him faint,
hospital gowns always flap

open, waiting rooms upset

his stomach, and it's only
indigestion anyway, he thinks,

until, feeding the reindeer,
he feels as if a monster fist
has grabbed his heart and won't

stop squeezing. He can't
breathe, and the beautiful white
world he loves goes black,

Click here if you to want to finish reading this poem.

At Wild Rose Reader, I have an original poem that I wrote for Tricia's Poetry Stretch this week.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at AmoXicalli.


tanita✿davis said...

Oh, WAH!
I was never taught to believe, my mother always said she didn't want to tell us something that wasn't true, because we wouldn't believe her when she told us the truth... but OH, this poem is a heartbreaker anyway.

Ruth said...

This is in Nancie Atwell's Naming the World and I read it with my eighth graders this year. I don't ever remember believing in Santa, but I love the poem anyway.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

Wow, this is really powerful, especially since, as the mother of children who are now old enough to understand it all, the Santa thing is just suddenly weird to me. I mean, we do it, but it took a long time to get over feeling like I was LYING to my girls. I kinda still do. I try to look at it from the this-is-like-our-mythology standpoint, but I still feel like I'm deceiving them in some ways.

Jules, 7-Imp

Jules at 7-Imp said...

P.S. When another kid in the neighborhood told me about Santa, I ran and asked my mother, and she simply said, "Christmas is more fun if you believe."

Jules, 7-Imp

Elaine Magliaro said...

I remember believing in Santa Claus. The Christmas "fairy tale" seemed so magical to me. I wouldn't have wanted to have missed out on that little fantasy.

I don't recall feeling guilty about telling my daughter about Santa Claus.
I think I wanted her to feel the magic I had felt as a young child.

Jules, don't worry. Your girls might feel sad if they were left out of the mythology.

Anonymous said...

I remember my deal with Santa pretty distinctly. I was just four, and I spent a fair amount of an afternoon puzzling about Santa Claus and kept coming to the same conclusion that there was no way he was real. I don't know what got me started on this path. At any rate, I remember going to find my mother, and I didn't even ask her. I just said, "I know Santa Claus isn't real." And she said, "Well." And that was that. I wasn't upset about it or anything. I just felt like I suddenly understood something I hadn't before.

This poem, though--wow. It's a poem about death, really, about what it does to us emotionally. I get that. Yi. Thanks for sharing it.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

Adrienne, I think my oldest is going to be a lot like that -- like you were, puzzling out how it really doesn't make a lot of sense. She seems to be a big thinker.

And (as I was just telling Elaine), since this is the age of magical things, which goes away quickly enough, yes, it's fun the short amount of time they believe in the Christmas fairy tale. I was simply surprised at how it took getting used to for me to talk about it. And just the other day, she wanted to mail her letter to Santa, transcribed by my mother. But, since I want to keep it ('cause it's freakin' adorable), I thought I'd pretend to put it in an envelope and mail it -- that kind of thing makes me feel reeeeeeally deceptive. Which probably makes me weird, but it just does. Fortunately, she just forgot all about mailing it, so I didn't have to do that.

Maybe by next year, I will have become acclimated to it all. And I don't have any plans to chuck Santa; right now, it's too much fun.

Jules, 7-Imp

Jules at 7-Imp said...

Oh and, yes, back to the poem, which is what this is all about. Yes, it's so intense, Adrienne. It's what you said, but it's also buh-bye to innocence, no? Very powerful.

I'm really done now.

Elaine Magliaro said...

Adrienne and Jules,

I guess the poem can be perceived in more than one way. I tried to leave the end of the poem I wrote for Wild Rose Reader open to interpretation. I assume other writers must do the same thing.

Christine Tripp said...

I loved it when I was little and believed in Santa. It obviously didn't scar me enough to not pass on the same magic to my kids and I kept the lie up as long as possible without making them look foolish (ie: over the age of 10)
My children also must not have been scared by my bold faced lie as they also now do the Santa thing with their wee ones and have a ball reliving it through their children's eyes.

Sara said...

My son asked me to tell him the truth about Santa, and when I did, he gave me the HUGEST hug in the world and said "Thank you." I went to my daughter, who was two years older than my son, and told her that her brother had asked about Santa, and did she want to know too? She said, NO, NO, NO. So there you have it. You believe as long as you want to/need to. And as long as the love continues afterwards, there's no harm done.

Mary Lee said...

Jules, I agree, it's more fun to believe.

Somehow my mother taught us how to hold two truths in our minds at the same time -- that there is no Santa, really, and that there is nothing more real than Santa.