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Monday, December 18, 2006

The Annual Telling of the Lies

Every year, as part of the sacred celebration of that holiest of holidays, the birth of our Lord and Savior, I lie like a rug. I just sent an email, claiming to be someone I'm not. It was to my daughter, from fatmaninredsuit@ourinternetprovider.com. A couple of years ago, as Christmas approached, she was not making a name for herself on the "nice" list, if you know what I'm saying. Her room was atrocious, impenetrable, even. Finally, that year, the fat man threatened her with not leaving any gifts at all, if his elves did not report back to him that at least her floor was visible by Christmas Eve. (Yes, I have saved that letter so that she can take it to her therapist some day.)

The first Christmas lie (Santa doesn't count) was one that LG actually originated herself, and there was no way I was contradicting it. When she was a wee little high-chair sitter, her wee high-chair sat next to our breakfast room window. Out that window, she had a perfect view of the home of our neighbor, Missy Colleen, who lived around the block from us, and a corner of whose backyard joined a corner of our backyard. At the front of Missy Colleen's house stood a very tall utility pole. On that pole was (and I guess still is, though we moved a few years ago) a large, bright, street light. When toddler LG looked out that kitchen window, one dark December evening (no doubt after I'd been indoctrinating her with the Christmas story, as I did since she was about 10 months old), she pointed a plump, dimpled finger toward that light and said excitedly, "THE STAW-UH!"

I looked. I saw no staw-uh. Of course, I didn't yet know what a staw-uh was. LG was undaunted by my ignorance.

"THE STAW-UH! THE STAW-UH!"

"The . . . staw? uh?" I tried to understand, since clearly it was something quite special.

"THE STAW-UH OF BUFF-LA-HAM!"

Well, I'll be darned. She was right. There, big as life and twice as bright, was the Star of Bethlehem, curiously affixed to a pole in front of Missy Colleen's home. The Staw-uh of Buff-la-ham, indeed. The beauty of that perception is . . . Missy Colleen. If the Star of Bethlehem were going to take up residence in suburban Baltimore, there is no place more worthy of its residence than Missy Colleen's house. She LOVES her some Jesus, and will tell you so at the drop of a hat. She is in her late 70s now, and she will tell you about her younger years when she lived a rather "worldly" life. She will also tell you how once she met Jesus, in her 50s, her life began again. Missy Colleen (as she refers to herself) is in a wheelchair, from childhood polio. (Her wheels never stopped her from "getting around," back in the day.) She is beautiful, in face, in body, in spirit. A few years ago, she married a tall handsome man who attends to her in the way in which she should be attended, and who sings show tunes with her, for the entertainment of visitors, say, a "young" friend with WTF disease who drops in to ask Missy Colleen for prayer. I adore Colleen. She is an example to me of a mature Christian. She is more conservative than I, in many ways, but mostly she is trying every day to do her best to follow Christ, and to acknowledge that whatever wrong thing someone else is doing, she probably did as bad or worse, or would have if she'd thought of it, and God still loves us all.

So, I ask you, why would the Star not sit right out in front of Missy Colleen's? Well, it would, of course. LG asked me, either last year or the year before, if you can still see the Star of Bethlehem from our old kitchen window. I said I believe you can. You know, as I write this, maybe that's not a lie after all.

What lies do you tell, or were you told, in celebration of Christmas?

26 heads are better than one . . .

Anonymous LadyBug said...

My head is pounding (I just returned from Miss Attitude's 2nd grade Christmas party. 20 children hyped up on sugar and holiday happiness. Need I say more?), so I can't think of anything coherent except this:

This was a beautiful entry, Miss Susie. God bless you, my friend.

 
Anonymous Sharkey said...

Lies, schmies . . . I want to know what FatManInRedSuit said to LG this year. :)

It's lovely that the Church of the Sunday Post has spilled over into Monday. A good lesson for us all.

 
Blogger eclectic said...

Though I was persuaded as a child that Santa was real, until I recognized Uncle Wayne under the costume, we have never perpetuated that particular fairy tale with our kids. We tell them that Santa represents the spirit of generosity, and provides a nearly universal example of giving without expectation of return, which is worth studying and emulating. However, we may or may not have told them that they will not live to their next birthdays if they don't stop sniping at each other. I'm not entirely certain that's a lie, though we intended it to be. ;)

 
Anonymous platypus said...

I have tears of laughter in my eyes from The Staw-Uh of Buff-Le-Ham (which sounds like a small English village - you know, "I live in Buff-le-Ham: it's in the Domesday book"!)

I wasn't told anything really because my mother didn't feel the need apparently but one year on Christmas Eve, not long after Stumpy and I went to live with my parents, my sisters and I crept into the back garden and shook the horse's reindeer costume harness (yes, the horse has a reindeer costume!) so that the bells jingled. The next morning a thrilled and awestruck Stumpy told us that she had heard Santa's sleigh bells and so she knew beyond all doubt that he was real. That kept her going for quite a few years. The children next door also heard it and they were all so excited that I like to think I get a pass on that lie.

Hee hee, my word verification is ulube! *Snort!* *Snuffle!*

 
Blogger eclectic said...

Oh no, now Platy's got me laughing. And it is so lovely, I may not stop for a bit. Don't mind me... I'll just be in the corner giggling uncontrolledly. Send tissues.

 
Blogger SierraBella said...

Christmas lies? Never...

I want to know what FatManInRedSuit said as well! Did it have anything to do with hoarding toilet paper?

 
Blogger Nina said...

Me ~ lie? You know what I miss it.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas when one was misbehaving. I would just start singing "Santa Claus is coming to town, you better watch out and you better not cry, he sees you when your sleeping . . . etc."
To this day I don't know if it was the thought that Santa was coming or if it was my singing? But said child would just straighten up immediately.

 
Blogger Circus Kelli said...

Just this evening, we told lil Miss Sweet Pea that Santa wanted to wait until she was feeling better (Lil Miss Sweet Pea was sent home from school around 3pm with a fever of 101. She also woke in the night with an earache) to see her, rather than see her tonight at the mall.

 
Blogger Circus Kelli said...

Oh, and if the kids ask this year, I'm *so* gonna tell them Santa will wrap their presents in the paper Mommy's had in her closet all year. ;)

 
Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

The Star hovering over Missy Colleen's house seems perfectly logical to me—and I am about six decades older than LG was when she first noticed it.

 
Blogger Ortizzle said...

I don't remember any special lies being told to me. I do remember helping perpetuate the fatmaninredsuit belief: my Dad used to get on the phone every year (after my sister and I already knew the truth) and phone up younger kids in the neighborhood pretending to be Santa. We got such a kick out of watching him do that, and of course, the kids were in awe, and would tell us the next day, and ask if Santa had phoned us as well. Funny I should remember that today; it's my Dad's birthday. A nice tribute to his memory, and a reminder that some of the best folks around are big fat liars :-)

Thanks for sharing your staw-uh with us. I am in total awe-uh.

 
Blogger Ortizzle said...

I don't remember any special lies being told to me. I do remember helping perpetuate the fatmaninredsuit belief: my Dad used to get on the phone every year (after my sister and I already knew the truth) and phone up younger kids in the neighborhood pretending to be Santa. We got such a kick out of watching him do that, and of course, the kids were in awe, and would tell us the next day, and ask if Santa had phoned us as well. Funny I should remember that today; it's my Dad's birthday. A nice tribute to his memory, and a reminder that some of the best folks around are big fat liars :-)

Thanks for sharing your staw-uh with us. I am in total awe-uh.

 
Blogger Ortizzle said...

I don't remember any special lies being told to me. I do remember helping perpetuate the fatmaninredsuit belief: my Dad used to get on the phone every year (after my sister and I already knew the truth) and phone up younger kids in the neighborhood pretending to be Santa. We got such a kick out of watching him do that, and of course, the kids were in awe, and would tell us the next day, and ask if Santa had phoned us as well. Funny I should remember that today; it's my Dad's birthday. A nice tribute to his memory, and a reminder that some of the best folks around are big fat liars :-)

Thanks for sharing your staw-uh with us. I am in total awe-uh.

 
Blogger Nilbo said...

We told the kids that sure, cookies and milk were good, but Santa preferred Kahlua in his milk. And it wasn't a lie. You could tell, ebcause in the morning there was nary a drop left.

 
Blogger WILLIAM said...

I don't have any lies of my own but I have a few not really lies but evidence of lies. My dad usesd to stick his sneaker into flour and leave foot prints around the house as if it were santa..santa wore Chuck Taylor's sneakers. You could tell from the tread. Another one I heard was to take a small piece fo red fabric and leave it hooked in the Chimney or stuck in the door as if Santa tore his suit. Kids love it.

 
Blogger Squirl said...

Wait a minute, LG was 10 months old and she knew and could talk about the staw-uh of buff la ham? Do I not know enough about child development or is that really precocious?

We were all told about Santa, of course. But one of my favorite stories happened either before I was born or when I was very young.

They'd told my older brother, JD, about Santa's elves checking on little kids. So, one night he caught his own reflection in the window and freaked out thinking it was an elf.

Kids are fun. ;)

 
Blogger BeckyD said...

YOu've been christmas tagged. Go check out my blog "Christmas Tagged" for directions

 
Anonymous hemlock said...

Neat story.

I haven't started the telling of lies yet. In a few years perhaps! ;)

I don't even think that I was told any lies when I was a child. Other than Santa of course.

 
Blogger Momentarily_Distracted said...

My brother is usually the one his friends turn to when they need to make a quick call to the North Pole. Their kids believe it and it quiets them right down.
He has a deep voice, so it works.
It's a good thing his kids haven't asked me about Santa. I'd just tell them about how a week ago I saw Santa (okay, I know he was one of the "mall-helper Santas", but still...)driving down in avenue in full costume. In his Pinto.
Seriously.
He even winked and waved at me. He looked like the real McCoy. Real silver hair, beard and everything.

 
Blogger lawyerchik said...

This is not so much about Christmas "lies" as just recollection. Honestly, I don't remember when I learned/realized that Santa was not real. I don't remember anyone actually telling me that Santa brought presents, although I remember getting gifts from "Santa." More of my "Santa-fication" came from TV - gotta love Charlie Brown, Rudolph and Frosty!! :)

At some point I remember knowing that "Santa" was Mom and Dad, but I don't remember how that clicked. I remember hearing that if I was bad, I would get coal in my stocking, but that's about it.

I remember hearing the Christmas story from Luke's gospel every year, and I love to hear that - King James version, preferably, because of the dual beauty of the story itself and the poetic language. The two were always intertwined - yes, Christmas means presents, but it's a celebration of the birth of Jesus and the promise of peace with God for those who accept God's gift of his Son.

There is a cool website on St. Nicholas and Santa at www.stnicholascenter.org, though, that has some neat information on it, in case you're interested. :)

 
Blogger The other me said...

I'm amazed my tongue hasn't dropped out with all the lies I am telling to these 3 little boys, the fairies are watching and will tell Santa their every move....Nina I sing Santa claus is coming to town as a lulaby every night so Elijah will stay in bed! I just like to think it is more magic making than lying...Santa so IS true.

 
Blogger Traci said...

I don't tell lies at Christmas time my dear. The year my youngest daughter was crying and saying "Mom, there isn't really a Santa Claus." I said "Of COURSE there is! I believe that Santa lives in all of us and that sometimes during the Christmas season when we do good things we wouldn't otherwise do for others, that's Santa talking."

 
Blogger Traci said...

I don't tell lies at Christmas time my dear. The year my youngest daughter was crying and saying "Mom, there isn't really a Santa Claus." I said "Of COURSE there is! I believe that Santa lives in all of us and that sometimes during the Christmas season when we do good things we wouldn't otherwise do for others, that's Santa talking."

 
Anonymous Katy said...

That was a beautiful story about LG and the Staw-Uh. It made me cry!

One of the funniest stories I've ever heard about perpetuating the lie of Santa Claus came from my boyfriend's mother. "Miz Wilma" taught for years in a remote mountain community located in southwest Virginia. One year she had a particularly rough-hewn adolescent boy in her class. She was trying unsuccessfully to manage his bad behavior by regaling him with yuletide stories of Santa, sugar plums, blah blah blah.

The last day before school broke for the holidays, there was a Christmas party for the class. The kid became a believer when the fat red man burst into the room with his sack of candy and other treats for the kids. Slack-jawed, all he could blurt out was, "By Gawd, There IS a Santy Claus!"

Ho Ho Ho!

 
Blogger Von Krankipantzen said...

Being single and childless I have not had to tell any lies so far. But I remember how my father explained Santa worked on Christmas to me. We lived in an apartment (so no fireplaces) and he said Santa and his reindeer would land on the roof of the building and deliver presents to all the good people through their keyholes. So I always thought Santa could vapourize. I pictured it like they did it in the transpoter room on Star Trek. Beam me up, Rudolph!

 
Blogger Susie said...

Oh, ladybug, that sounds rough! God bless you right back.

shawkey, OK, he didn't start with the threatening yet. He just said that he's very busy this week, and that his elves will be in our area on about Wednesday. Just giving her a heads up, in case she should want to CLEAN HER ROOM! WHAT? It works.

eclectic, no gifts, death . . . whatever. All good parents have to threaten their children sometimes ;)

platy, it IS a lovely little village :) And I am now longing to see that horse in a reindeer costume. Great story.

sierrabella, see reply to Shawkey. He did not address the t.p. issue, but that's not a bad idea ;)

nina, I love it :)

ck, I hope Sweet Pea feels better soon. And I hope your paper has Santa's face on it :)

ssnick, yes, Missy Colleen is good people, quite a star herself :)

ortizzle, that's a wonderful memory of your dad. Thanks for sharing. All three times ;)

nilbo, interesting. I don't even want to think about what Santa drank at my (childhood) house. That was often a very "festive" time of year.

william, I am SO all over that red fabric idea. This might be our last year of "believing," so I'm going to use that.

squirl, good question. She was precocious, but not quite that much so. I started telling her the story for her first Christmas, when she was about 10 months, but this episode is probably from the next year, about 22 months. That's a funny JD story.
Kids are fun. To mess with.

beckyd, there's a song that says, "Every party has a pooper," and I am going to be it for this tag. I've gone ON and ON here about what I want for Christmas, and most especially about what I DON'T want, so I'm taking a break from that for now. Thanks for including me, though.

hemlock, you should start practicing ;)

MoDis, it's always exciting to see a REAL Santa. Never seen one in a Pinto, though.

lawyerchik, I like to read the King James version Christmas story, too. I remember that my brothers told me there was no Santa, that the gifts were from Dad (I guess because he worked outside the home and had the income). I told them I knew that wasn't true, because Dad was too cheap to buy us all that stuff.
Thanks for the website, I'll check it out :)

t.o.m., like you, I think of that kind of lying as magic making. Even as imagination-developing. I also think (and I know some religious types would disagree vehemently) that belief in Santa prepares kids for belief in God. Believing in a spirit that we can't see, but whose work we can see. Back to eclectic's "Santa is a spirit of generosity..." God is Spirit, too.

traci, does that mean you tell lies on some other holiday? ;)

katy, by gawd, ho! ho! ho! That is too funny.

kranki, beam me up, Rudolph! That's good. We didn't have a fireplace when I was little either. So Santa came down through that little attic hole in the hall closet. Not quite the same.

 


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