Judy Blume ruined Christmas in my house.
More on that in a moment, but my end-of-the-holiday-magic story will never top the kid who had her understanding of holiday magic challenged by Donald Trump in 2018.
Five years ago, Donald and Melania Trump settled in between some giant Christmas trees in the White House and took to calling children who, ostensibly, would enjoy a call from Donald or Melania Trump on Christmas Eve.
A clip of Trump went viral on Tuesday, showing him on the phone with Collman Lloyd of Lexington, South Carolina, who wanted to ask the president if he knew the current location of Santa Claus. Trump asked Lloyd if she still believed in Santa, which she confirmed.
“Because at seven, that’s marginal, right?” he asked.
The media jumped all over it. The clip went viral, and it trends every December. I’m writing this story because someone I know sent it to me and confessed she watches it every holiday season.
Thankfully, for little Collman, the magic of Christmas survived her brief talk with Trump.
The Post and Courier:
Lloyd, 7, wanted to know precisely where the man in the red suit was.
She contacted the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which has tracked Santa’s whereabouts for 63 years. A scientist answered the phone and asked Lloyd if she would like to speak with President Donald Trump.
If anyone knew where Santa was, could it be the president?
The magic of Christmas was saved for Collman, the Post and Courier reports, because the second-grader didn’t yet know what “marginal” meant.
That night, Lloyd and her siblings left iced sugar cookies and chocolate milk out for Santa. The next morning, they were gone, and under the tree was a wrapped gift with Lloyd’s name on it: a brand new American Girl doll.
Santa is real after all, Lloyd said.
If we could all be so lucky. We all have our Santa stories, though, don’t we?
I was six or seven, and too smart for my own good, reading far above my reading level. I was obsessed with the “Superfudge” books by Judy Blume. At the very end of “Double Fudge,” the final book in the series, Peter, the cranky 12-year-old narrator, challenged my understanding of the Tooth Fairy. If what the book said was true, the Fairy was actually Peter and Fudge’s mom. I closed the book and found my mother. I explained what I just read and asked The Question No Parent Wants To Hear.
My mother conceded the truth about the Fairy. Satisfied, I walked away. As my mother told it when I was a bit older, she was relieved that we’d only lost the Fairy. We could still enjoy Santa, and her personal favorite, the Easter Bunny. The woman loved a good Easter basket.
Alas, my nerdy self made the connection after a few minutes, and I came back to her.
”If the Tooth Fairy isn’t real, what about Santa and the Easter Bunny?”
And just like that, the magic was gone, until we found new ways to recapture it—they looked a lot like the old ways, but we both pretended I believed. My mother made me promise not to tell my cousins—who were all very close in age to me—what I’d learned.
As an only child, my cousins (and two lifelong friends) are my chosen “siblings.” I reached out to the Cousin Group Text to get their stories, and it was a lovely conversation that got us laughing with each other across state lines. One cousin’s story broke my heart a bit.
I remember asking my mom if Santa was real at some point. She replied, “What do you think?”
I responded “He must be real because I know you cannot afford to buy me all of that.” She did not disagree and that prolonged my belief for at least another year.
Our own Mark Sumner’s son had a journey through the magic that escalated similarly to my own, but Sumner the Younger took things a step further.
Over three successive mornings at the bus stop when my son was in second grade:
Day 1: “Dad, is the Eastern bunny real?” “Well … no, it’s just a fun story. But don’t tell your friends, okay? Let them figure it out for themselves.” “Okay.” Day 2: “Dad, what about Santa? Is Santa real?” “Uhhh … are you sure you want to know?” “Yes.” “Well, no. Your mom and I buy the presents. Santa just makes it more fun, don’t you think?” “Maybe.” Day 3: “Dad, is God real?”
Consider this your Christmas Open Thread: We all have our stories, and I dare you to share yours in the comments!
Happy Christmas, y’all. I’m so glad you’re here. (And Judy, if you’re reading this, I forgive you! Thanks for all the great books, they defined my childhood!)