Caution: Don’t read this out loud

Caution: Don't read this out loud by Bob Karolevitz Santa Claus has come and gone for another year!

He climbed down eight zillion chimneys and didn�t get a drop of soot on his red suit.

There were zillions of other houses and hovels that didn�t have chimneys, but apparently he visited them just the same.

And if he had milk and cookies at each stop, no wonder his belly shook like a bowlful of jelly!

Actually, this is confession time for me. I�m going to tell you how I learned that Santa Claus was just a myth foisted on youngsters by well-meaning adults who had also been duped in their childhood.

I think I was all of six years old when my maternal grandfather blurted out the terrible news that I didn�t want to hear.

He was a Christmas-loving, God-fearing German-from-Russia who didn�t believe that little boys and girls should be the victims of such non-Christian foolishness-and so he told me the awful truth.

I cried and cried, that�s what I did!

My world was turned upside down in an instant. Would the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy be next?

I should have known that reindeer couldn�t fly and that his bag wasn�t big enough to hold toys for everyone, but I was caught up in the giant fabrication which children everywhere are heir to.

Phyllis doesn�t remember when she was told that Santa was really her parents. On the other hand, she told daughter Jan that the North Pole denizen was not real.

Jan didn�t cry like I did. Instead, she was worried about the cookies we�d put out for him. Who would eat them, she wanted to know?

Phyllis and I did, that�s who!

Our other daughter, Jill, says that Jan probably revealed the secret to her, but she recalls no traumatic experience. Grandson Sam most likely figured it out for himself. Not much gets past him.

So I�m probably the only one in our family who greeted the upsetting announcement with tears of disbelief.

Oh, I�ve got other memories of Christmas past. For instance, though we were Catholic, we went to our grandparents� Evangelical Church because we got an orange there. We didn�t get anything when we attended Midnight Mass later.

I also remember when one bad bulb put out the whole string of lights, and we had to unscrew them all to find the culprit. We didn�t have outdoor decorations then either. I guess it was too expensive � or the merchants in China and Taiwan hadn�t yet come up with a thousand ways to wrest our Christmas dollars from us.

I don�t remember the incident because I was just a babe-in-arms on the occasion, but an aunt told me how I grabbed a glass ornament off the tree and tried to gobble it up. She was holding me at the time, and I guess my lips were bleeding until they got the shards out of my mouth.

I haven�t eaten a glass ornament since!

And so the holiday season is winding down. Santa Claus � a figment of our imagination � has gone back to his elves, but the REAL reason for Christmas goes on and on in the hearts of the faithful.

(CAUTION: Don�t read this column out loud so tiny tots can hear it. We don�t want to spoil their fun!)

� 2003 Robert F. Karolevitz

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