Two Years of Santa or Thanks, Walmart: A Christmas Story (Sorta)


He was handsome, independent, witty, and his dimples knocked the socks off ladies, both young and old.

He was also two, in pull-ups, and liked to throw his sippy cup down to see me pick it up.

Going to the local Walmart is the thing to do in small Southern towns. Let’s face it: when Friday rolls around in Griffin, GA, we doll ourselves up, load up the younguns, and head to the town gathering place. Our husbands hang out in bait and camping; our daughters hang out in clothing; and we walk in exhausted confusion among the linens and if we are lucky, we sneak over to jewelry and purses. What is extra nice: we see our buddies hiding from their children and husbands in jewelry and purses! Christmas at Walmart is a huge cultural activity too. We wait for the displays of lawn decorations, the huge Christmas trees, and most of all, shop in secret since parents…wait for it….are Santa Claus.

I hope I didn’t destroy your Christmas innocence.

In 2002, I was doing covert operations.  Unfortunately, the covert operations included my dimple wonder. I’d pump him for information about Christmas gifts with “ohhh” and “ahhh” and my dimple wonder would point and say, “That! Oh, that!” He gave us wonderful input on what he wanted for Christmas, starting around October. Up and down the toy aisle, my only child, my dimple wonder, would toddle back and forth through Superhero this and GI Joe that, pointing with his sippy cup in hand. His list? A mile long. And he went to Santa and told him. He even wrote to Santa.

Okay: I wrote Santa and he scribbled a big “I” and two other letters, to make it “Ian.” But he mailed it! I even held him up when he did so.

As we took the last Walmart visit before Christmas, my toddler, bounced all the way into the store. He pointed, giggled, and had a wonderful time. He sat in the buggy, drinking his sippy cup, and would point at everything and anything that had to do with Christmas. But after awhile, Ian feel silent.

Real silent.

“Ian, honey, what’s wrong?” My child was NEVER silent.

His face puckered up. No dimples appeared.

He pointed at an over-decorated Christmas tree.

“White Christmas trees? Tacky – I agree,” I patted his back.

He threw his sippy cup down and threw back his head and began to wail.

“Ian….Honey…What’s wrong?!” his father asked.

“No Santa!” he wept.

My husband and I looked at one another quickly. Had Ian overhead someone talking?

“No Santa? I don’t understand,” I asked.

Ian wept, as if he had a broken heart.

“Lie! Lie! No Santa!”

And it dawned on us in absolute horror, in the Walmart in Griffin, GA, on December 15, 2002: Ian, at two years and eight months, had figured out what most children don’t deduct for years: there is no Santa.

We just stood there as he cried his little eyes out, disappointed, and pointed at us with “Lie, Lie!” over and over again. “No Santa! No Santa!” he wept.

We quickly exited, stage left, out of the Walmart and just came clean with our son. What were we suppose to do? Standing in the freezing cold, my husband confirmed Ian’s suspicions and we got him a Wendy’s Frosty. All the way home, he would wave his Frosty at us and scold, “Lie. Lie bad. Bad to lie” and we started laughing. Eventually, Ian decided it was funny. At Christmas, he informed us he was going to tell ALL his friends there was no Santa. Yep….Two years old. That was life then….

Life now: for the next twelve years, Ian, still with dimples and a huge sense of humor, goes into Walmart at Christmas, finds the exact spot his innocence at Christmas ended, and cackles. It’s his favorite holiday story to tell people. And Bobby and I still cringe, after all these years, that our only child had two years to believe in Santa….And we had only two years (note: with our only child)….Ian thought it his purpose in life to liberating children from the “lie” of Santa Claus and it was a full-time job to keep him silent not to ruin other Christmases for other children. It was a stressful twelve years!

Two years of Santa… Thanks, Walmart. Or should I thank them? I saved hundreds of dollars in not having a Santa with Ian! Merry Christmas, Ian. And now, you had your own blog, my dimple wonder!!!!

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